COVID-19 surge: Health workers demand travel restriction

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Health workers in Nigeria have expressed worry about the Federal Government’s refusal to impose travel restrictions on inbound passengers from China following the resurgence of COVID-19.

The medical bodies have maintained that Nigeria does not have adequate human resources to handle another pandemic due to the massive emigration of health workers to other countries.

There has been a recent 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 over the past weeks partly due to the usual winter aggravations 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 travelers 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.

However, the President of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), Emeka Orji, has urged the federal government to make plans to protect Nigerians from a resurgence of COVID-19.

Orji warned, “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.”

In the same vein, the President of the Academy of Medicine Specialties of Nigeria, Oladapo Ashiru, said the country must act fast to prevent another pandemic.

According to him, “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”.

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

Adesola warned, “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”.

On his part, the Chairman of the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives, Lagos State Council, Olurotimi Awojide, said nurses are concerned that the government is yet to impose restrictions on travelers 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”.

Similarly, the President of the Nigerian Society for Virology, 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.”

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