Lockdown: Don’t Succumb to Pressure, Group tells governors

The Health Sector Reform Coalition (HSRC), an advocacy group, on Friday advised state governors not to succumb to pressure and relax the lockdown order meant to check the spread of COVID-19.

HSRC is a group under the Health Reform Foundation of Nigeria with over 100 non-government member-actors, including the Nigeria Medical Association and Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria.

In a statement signed by Dcn. Mike Egboh and Dr Chizoba Wonodi, co-chairs of its COVID-19 Response Task Team, the coalition said the lockdown imposed in many states was necessary to prevent a high number of deaths.

“Unfortunately, options are limited for now in the best ways to fight the spread.

“Scientific evidence and experience from developed and developing countries reinforce that avoiding crowd, physical distancing, handwashing and respiratory hygiene are still the best ways to prevent the spread and associated deaths,” the group said.

“With the high number of people living in poverty, high prevalence of chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes (underlying diseases) and very weak health systems, it will be catastrophic if the virus spreads widely in Nigeria.

“Because our testing is grossly inadequate, the true numbers of cases in Nigeria may be hidden.

“It is highly likely that community spread is happening because up to 85 per cent of the infected may be asymptomatic yet capable of transmitting the virus.

“Our containment is still in the nascent stage, this is not the time to relax our guard. The couple of weeks are very critical in containing an upsurge in the number of confirmed cases,” the group said.

It suggested that state governments wait for directives from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and the Federal Ministry of Health before reversing the lockdowns.

It also urged all governments to step up the distribution of social welfare packages and asked Nigerians to continue to listen to advice from health experts.

“Nothing is more important than staying alive,” it stressed.

Some states such as Abia, Ebonyi, and Kogi, where so far no cases of COVID-19 infection have been confirmed, have relaxed restrictions on movement to allow residents to participate in religious activities.

Also, the Rivers State on Thursday asked religious groups, especially Muslims and Christians, to conduct services for their congregations on Friday, April 10, and Sunday, April 12.

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'Kunle Adebajo

Head of Investigations at HumAngle. ‘Kunle covers conflict alongside its many intricacies and fallouts. He also writes about disinformation, the environment, and human rights. He's won a couple of journalism awards, including the 2021 Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Journalism, the 2022 African Fact-checking Award, and the 2023 Michael Elliott Award for Excellence in African Storytelling.

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