COVID-19 : Medical Bodies Call For Travel Restrictions, Says Nigeria Lacks Capacity To Handle Another Pandemic
Medical bodies in the country have cried out to the federal government to implement travel restrictions on passengers from China in the country.
According to them, the country does not have adequate human resources and capacity to tackle another pandemic at this critical time.
They explained that the massive migration of health workers in the country to seek greener pastures abroad has decreased the sector’s capacity to face another outbreak of the COVID-19 virus.
Their reaction follows the federal government’s refusal to place travel restrictions on inbound passengers from China in the country.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has however insisted that country-targeted travel restrictions including requests for PCR-negative tests from incoming travellers had little or no effect on preventing global and national circulation of omicron.
Naija News reported on Wednesday that Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) confirmed that 35 new COVID-19 illnesses were reported in the final week of December 2022.
The NCDC announced via its website on Wednesday that 22 of the cases were registered in the FCT, 10 in Lagos State, two in Delta, and one in Plateau.
The cases were recorded between December 24 and December 30, 2022, according to the center’s statement.
Nigeria now has 266,450 infected people and 3,155 fatalities overall since the pandemic broke out in 2019.
Reacting to the government’s stand, the President of the National Association of Resident Doctors, Dr Emeka Orji, told Punch that it would be appropriate if the government put in place plans to protect its citizens from a resurgence of COVID-19.
Orji said, “We need to act now because we don’t even have enough doctors to handle the current challenges we have in the health sector.
“If we now have a major pandemic, it will only worsen the situation because what we have at hand now, we don’t even have enough medical personnel to take care of them and that is why you have an increase in waiting time in the hospital and rescheduling of surgeries.”
Speaking to the issue also was the President of the Academy of Medicine Specialities of Nigeria, Prof Oladapo Ashiru, who said swift actions must be taken to prevent another pandemic.
He told Punch that “Anybody coming from China must come with a negative COVID-19 test, they must be screened and they must guard their contacts and maintain vigilance and after they come with a negative test, they must repeat the test after a week. If we don’t do that, we are going to be in a problem.”
On his part, Naija News gathered that the Chairman of the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives, Lagos State Council, Olurotimi Awojide, said nurses were concerned that the government is yet to impose restrictions on travellers from China.
Awojide said to Punch that “The government should be proactive and not wait until we have cases before placing restrictions.
“The world is a global village and we are closely connected. I am worried because we don’t have the human capacity to cope with any pandemic at this time and people have gone back to their normal activities; people need to be very cautious again.”
Similarly, while reacting to the issue, the President of the Association of Nigerian Private Medical Practitioners, Dr Kayode Adesola, also pleaded with the federal government to restrict travellers from China to avoid a resurgence in the country.
Adesola submitted that “Prevention is better than cure and that is the more reason the government needs to act on preventing any case from China. They should not think of whatever they gain from China but think of the ultimate thing, which is life.”
Meanwhile, Naija News reported on Monday 2 January that amidst the fears of another outbreak of the deadly COVID-19 virus, more countries of the world have commenced imposition of restrictions on travellers from China.
It gathered reports are that there has been a surge again in Covid-19 incidences in China following which Italy imposed travel restrictions on travellers arriving from China after about 50% of passengers on two flights arriving in Milan from China on December 28, 2022, reportedly tested positive for COVID-19.
It was however learnt that more countries like the United Kingdom, France, and Spain have joined the league of countries requesting a negative COVID-19 test result from travellers arriving from China.
Naija News learnt from Vanguard that the scale of the outbreak in China and doubts over official data have prompted the United States, India, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan to impose their own new travel rules on Chinese visitors.
Other countries said to have also joined in the new travel restrictions include Malaysia, Australia, and the Philippines.