ActionAid Nigeria is calling on the Federal Government of Nigeria to lockdown the country, except those on essential services for the next 14 days to fast-track the efforts of the Presidential Task Force on Control of Covid-19 in combating the spread of the virus.
Speaking in Abuja on the increased cases of the imported dreaded virus in the country, Ene Obi, Country Director, ActionAid Nigeria “We commend some of the steps taken by the Presidential Task Force on the Control of Covid-19 thus far, but more needs to be done quickly and promptly. With the cases of infected persons increasing from 3 to 36 within a week, Nigeria needs to be ready for the worst-case scenario. Unfortunately, the concept of social distancing and self-isolation remains a mirage to many Nigerians. The average Nigerian, particularly those offline and at the grassroot are still ignorant and lack the basic safeguarding information on symptoms and prevention of the spread of the virus. As an organisation, we are concerned that no proactive steps are being taken at the community levels and the average woman in the market is still unaware that the virus is so contagious that 1 infected person with high exposure can infect up to 2.5 million persons within 5 days as stated by the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire during a press conference on Monday 23rd March, 2020.
We are worried that Nigeria’s level of preparedness to respond to COVID-19 is low and this further buttress the need to re-prioritise Nigeria’s budgetary provisions by investing more in healthcare facilities. Nigeria’s porous borders makes her susceptible to outbreaks and it is quite unfortunate that we still have public gathering across the nation with many Nigerians still going about their businesses in packed public transport. Outbreaks and pandemics create an opportunity to re-evaluate the potency of our healthcare system and authenticity of our citizens database which would have eased contact tracing of the imported cases of the coronavirus.
ActionAid Nigeria, therefore, calls on the:
- Federal Government to issue an order to lockdown the country for the next 14 days to curtail further spread of the virus and review thereafter.
- Federal Government to open up emergency support for hospitals already coping with the treatment and bring on board the multitude of doctors (including others health workers) that are unemployed and recall retired doctors, and not wait till the crisis is full blown.
- State Governments to swiftly act by increasing the awareness on the proactive measures to prevent the spread of the virus at the grassroot level.
- National Orientation Agency and Ministry of Information to intensify public awareness to sensitize the masses by translating preventive guidelines to major Nigerian languages, especially on radio and other traditional means of communication. Also provide simple information leaflets and posters to be circulated nationwide soonest to protect citizens
- Media, particularly online mediums to fact-check and be more proactive in countering fake news.
- Citizens to support government’s effort by remaining at home with family members, reporting identified cases, practicing social distancing/ self-isolation, spreading preventive messages and desist from spreading unverified information.
ActionAid Nigeria (AAN) is a national non-governmental, non-partisan, non-religious, civil society organisation and an affiliate member of the ActionAid International Federation with presence in 45 countries. AAN works in solidarity with people living in poverty and exclusion to achieve social justice, gender equality and poverty eradication towards achieving a just, equitable and sustainable world in which every person enjoys the right to a life of dignity, freedom from poverty and all forms of oppression
Lola Ayanda - Communications Coordinator ActionAid Nigeria