COVID-19: Nigerians should still be alert, say experts
With the seeming apathy on the part of some Nigerians in the face of the third wave of COVID-19 and the Delta variant, which medical authorities have said is much more contagious and virulent than the previous ones, some Nigerian medical professionals have cautioned against adopting a relaxed attitude, which is capable of increasing the spread and compromising citizens’ safety. They said the best way to curb the spread and danger it poses still remains going for the jab and observing such preventive measures as social distancing, regular washing of hands and wearing of nose masks, among others.
Dr. Modupe Akinyinka, a Senior Lecturer and Consultant, Public Health Physician at the Department of Community Health and Primary Health Care, Lagos State University College of Medicine (LASUCOM), said it is imperative that everyone does the needful in this regard, which will guarantee citizens’ wellbeing.
To achieve this, Akinyinka said hospitals need to ensure that social distancing is in place and observed, while workers attend to patients.
She said: “With the third wave of COVID-19 and Delta variant pandemics, we cannot afford to have people with different health conditions congregating, as was done in the past. This is because just one person can transmit the disease to many vulnerable people, who will then convey it home and spread it further.
“Accordingly, hospitals need to put in place standard operating procedures. Health workers should be trained and retrained on these to ensure we can identify suspected cases of COVID-19 and Delta variant when the patients show up. Hospitals should also ensure a steady supply of required protective equipment for staff.”
She explained that hospitals should do due diligence in enforcing infection prevention practices to protect health workers and their patients. Also, health workers must adhere to universal safety precautions and specific guidelines in relation to COVID-19 and Delta variant to avoid transmission to them. “They are our soldiers in this war against the viruses. We need them to stay healthy, and also not to infect their families,” she said.
However, the Nigeria Solidarity Support Fund (NSSF), in collaboration with Global Citizen, an international advocacy organisation, has promised to address equity in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
Vice-Chairman of Global Citizen Nigeria, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, said the group will organise an event on September 25, 2021, to draw the attention of world leaders, corporate organisations and foundations to ensure equity and fairness in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
Aig-Imoukhuede stated this in Lagos while explaining that there was only one way of dealing with the pandemic, which is the vaccines and to get the type of herd immunity that ensures the safety of countries.
“To achieve that, there is a minimum percentage of the population that should be covered, typically well above 60 per cent,” he said.
He explained that Nigeria was currently below that threshold and that only about one per cent of the population had received one dose of the available vaccines.
He said: “NSSF is a private-sector led institution born out of a partnership between the Global Citizen (GC) and the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) to complement efforts in combating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic through fundraising to address three core COVID-19 response areas: supporting the most vulnerable, strengthening health care systems and re-skilling of Nigerian youth for The New Nigeria”.
‘The Institution believes that everyone should have access to quality and affordable healthcare services when they need it. Young Nigerians should be enabled with opportunities for self-empowerment and well-skilled for a post-COVID era, while the most vulnerable, disadvantaged, and marginalised groups in Nigeria should not be left behind”.
Public Health practitioner and Health Promotion specialist, Dr. Obinna Ebirim, said the safety protocol that was observed during the first and second waves are still relevant. “If needed and at the appropriate time, however, the government should apply wider measures, such as international or intra-state lockdowns,” he said.
In his view, the government should continue strengthening disease outbreak response.
He said: “There is need to train our Human Resources for health on outbreak/pandemic response, as well as invest more in research, innovation and development to be able to develop vaccines and such preventive tools as face masks, hand sanitisers and ventilators, among others. We have done well thus far, but we can do better. Nigerians should try to get vaccinated, so that they can have some level of immunity, such that the impact is reduced if infected, and we can achieve herd immunity soonest.”
He assured that with the level of rigour and assiduousness that goes into vaccine production and licensing, Nigerians should entertain no fear over the safety and efficacy of the vaccine being administered in the country.
Ebirim explained that because vaccines do not confer immediate and complete immunity against all COVID-19 variants, Nigerians should continue washing their hands regularly, wear facemasks and maintain social distancing.
A family Physician, Dr. Chukwuma Ogunbor, said it is important to know the risk factors, which help in preventing the spread of the disease.
“It is important to ensure hands are clean when wearing and taking off the facemask, which should properly cover the nose and mouth,” he explained. “And when in a room, make sure that it is well ventilated. This is achieved by simply opening one or two windows for good airflow… And when it is your turn, take the opportunity and go get vaccinated. If you are required to get two doses, ensure that you go for that second dose so that you are fully protected against severe disease and death.”