The Association of Nigeria Health Journalists (ANHEJ) is deeply concerned over the daily increase of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the country.
As at Thursday morning, March 26, 2020, Nigeria has so far recorded 51 confirmed cases of Covid-19. Out of the figure, 48 are active cases, 2 discharged and 1 death.
Most worrisome, however, is that, a considerable number of the newly confirmed cases are not imported. What this implies is that our situation is gradually getting to community spread of the diseases.
This is evident in the case of aides of some top government functionaries who are said to have come down with the illness without travelling outside the country. They contracted it from their bosses.
Even though it is not time to apportion blames, as journalists covering the health sector, we have, at various media briefings organized by the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, observed the need for forced isolation instead of the current method of self-isolation being adopted by the federal government.
We have severally argued that some Nigerians may not observe the voluntarily 14-days self-isolation, hence, the need to force them in order to prevent them from spreading the disease in the country.
Our fears seem to be coming true. We, however, insist that force isolation for anyone coming into the country is the way to go.
ANHEJ, therefore, calls on the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), to, as matter of urgency, track all the people that might have had close contact with the top government functionaries who are currently down with the Covid-19. Nobody should be left out, no matter how high placed. They should be closely monitored for 14 days.
Considering that most of the states in the country are closing businesses, the rural areas will definitely witness influx of those coming from the city, hence, the tendency to have the disease spread to the rural areas.
The federal and states governments must, therefore, intensify efforts to ensure that Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) have the needed workforce with the required skill to identify suspected cases and then report to the appropriate authorities for necessary action.
ANHEJ also calls on the Federal Ministry of Health, the NCDC, to provide all the necessary protective materials to its members (journalists) who are at the centre of this crisis.
The governments at both the federal and state levels should develop ingenious ways of supporting indigents to alleviate their sufferings in the event that there is total shut down of activities in the country.
We also call on the federal government to provide the necessary funding to the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 to enable it perform optimally. The Taskforce, should, on the other hand, partner with all agencies of government and the private sector for better result.
ANHEJ is therefore, determined to work closely with all relevant government agencies, the private sector and the Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs), the way we did during Ebola crisis to provide our people with the needed information. ANHEJ is a group of professional journalists assigned by different media organisations to cover activities in the health sector in Nigeria.
Hassan Zaggi (President)
Gloria Essien (Gen. Secretary