Home News COVID-19 surge: Health workers demand travel restriction

COVID-19 surge: Health workers demand travel restriction

by Haruna Gimba

By Asmau Ahmad

Disturbed by the resurgence of COVID-19 in China, medical bodies in the country have expressed worry about the Federal Government’s refusal to place travel restrictions on inbound passengers from China in the country.

According to them, Nigeria does not have adequate human resources to handle another pandemic as a result of the massive emigration of health workers to other countries.

There is a resurgence of COVID-19 in China following the relaxation of the country’s zero-COVID policy, as well as significantly increased COVID-19 cases, admissions, and deaths in the United Kingdom and the United States of America over the past weeks driven partly by the usual winter exacerbations of respiratory illnesses.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) has maintained 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 since the emergence of this variant and its relatives with their shorter incubation period.

The President of the National Association of Resident Doctors, Dr. Emeka Orji, said that the government should make plans to protect its citizens from a resurgence of COVID-19.

“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,” Dr Orji said.

Also, the President of the Academy of Medicine Specialities of Nigeria, Prof Oladapo Ashiru, said the country must act fast to prevent another pandemic.

“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,” he said.

The President of the Association of Nigerian Private Medical Practitioners, Dr. Kayode Adesola, also urged the government to restrict travellers from China to avoid a resurgence in the country.

“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,” he said.

On his part, 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.

“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,” Awojide said.

The President of the Nigerian Society for Virology, Prof. Clement Mboto, said COVID-19 is re-emerging as a risk for all countries, enhanced by an upsurge in the Omicron sub-variants and the focus should not be exclusively on China, as the disease is slowly re-emerging as a global pandemic.

A virologist at the Adeleke University, Ede, Osun State, Dr. Oladipo Kolawole, said there should be a concern about flights coming from China.

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