By Tobias Lengnan Dapam
The Association of Nigeria Health Journalists (ANHEJ), has called on the Federal Government to outline practical measures to avoid spread of the COVID 19 disease to communities.
The Association also urged the Federal Ministry of Health and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), to provide necessary protective materials to journalists covering the pandemic.
A statement signed by President of ANHEJ, Mr. Hassan Zaggi and the General Secretary, Gloria Essien, recently in Abuja, expressed dissatisfaction with government’s strategy of self-isolation which it said resulted in the spread of the disease by individuals who had disobeyed the government’s directive on self-isolation.
The statement reads in part: “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 this morning, Nigeria has so far recorded 97 confirmed cases of Covid-19 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 forced isolation for anyone coming into the country is the way to go.”
The Association, therefore, called 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 highly placed. They should be closely monitored for 14 days.”
ANHEJ, while commending the lockdown already taking effect in some states, urged government at all levels to equip health personnel, increase funding to the Presidential taskforce on COVID-19, and to provide support for indigents to alleviate their sufferings due to a lockdown.