Coronavirus: Nigeria Health journalists call for forced isolation of unyielding contacts

The Association of Nigeria Health Journalists (ANHEJ) has appealed to the
Federal Government to make isolation compulsory for anyone suspected to
have had contact with persons who are positive to the novel coronavirus.

This is even as the group expressed fears over possible spread of the disease
in the nation’s communities.

In a statement jointly signed by president and general secretary of the
association, Hassan Zaggi and Gloria Essien respectively, ANHEJ said it was high time government at all levels took some of the strongest measures to
save the nation from the horrible consequences of the spread of the virus.

Nigeria currently has 51 cases of the disease, otherwise known as COVID-19.

With its death toll hovering around 21,000 globally at the time of filing this
report, confirmed cases from the virus are nearing 500,000 worldwide.

The virus which was first reported in Wuhan, China late 2019 has ravaged
global economy and rapidly rendering many supposed world powers
hopeless.

The US, Spain, Italy, Germany, Iran, Algeria, Morocco among others are facing some of their worst moments in dealing with the scourge.

ANHEJ said in its message that it was deeply concerned over the daily
increase of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the country and that all tiers of
government should rev their efforts in combating the disease.

The association said new cases of the virus emerging from the nation are not
imported, but they are rather contracted from persons who are already
positive to the disease in the country.

ANHEJ listed aides of political office holders who have tested positive for the virus as few examples of such persons, as it emphasized on need for forced
isolation.

It called on the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire and the National Centre
for Disease Control (NCDC) to make personal protective equipment available
for its members “who are at the centre of the crisis” in the nation.

Besides, ANHEJ called on tiers of government in the country to make primary health care centres more functional, well-equipped with personnel to handle
cases if they occur in communities.

Read the full statement below.

PRESS STATEMENT
ANHEJ calls for urgent action as Nigeria gradually gets to community spread
of Covid-19

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 indigent people 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.

Signed
Hassan Zaggi (President)

Gloria Essien (Gen. Secretary)

 

Gado Agency

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