As the number of Nigerians infected by COVID-19 increases daily, labour unions in Nigeria have called for a “massive community based and decentralised contact tracing, testing and treatment” to curb the spread of the virus.
The unions also said the number of testing centres and kits for COVID-19 in Nigeria remains inadequate for the population.
The labour-civil society situation room on COVID19 in a statement jointly signed by Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba, and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Quadri Olaleye, said Nigeria has so far tested about 22492 people, “a number that still lags behind that of other African countries.”
“We also call for more testing facilities and kits across the country. As a matter of national health emergency, testing centres should be established in every senatorial district of the country complete with community mobilisation and enforcement, contact tracing should be prioritised as a major public health policy response to the pandemic,” the union said.
They said the absence of specialised and continued training on effective management of COVID19 and support is the reason for the rising figures of health workers infected.
“There are about 300 health workers infected with COVID19 and we are asking for specialised Isolation Centres for infected health care workers and standardisation of all isolation and treatment centres in Nigeria.”
They said proper equipping of the centres will correct their public perception as detention centres.
“We also reiterate the call for the prioritisation of adequate supply of personal protective equipment for health workers at all level of healthcare delivery.”
The union also said the paucity of public health education and mass community mobilisation on COVID-19 in many parts of Nigeria especially in rural places is a major challenge “as many Nigerians still doubt the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Guidelines and economy
The union said the “rash of conflicting responses and approaches to the pandemic by state governments should be addressed.”
“Nigeria Governors Forum (need) to issue a set of overarching guidelines on issues of common interest to states so that individual states can deal with peculiar nuances that affect them.
“We call on the Kano State Government to take the current wave of infection in the state more seriously. We call for very proactive measures by Kano State Government including strict enforcement of total lockdown of the state, deployment of robust public health education, provision of adequate personnel and equipment for rapid contact tracing, testing and treatment of cases. We also call on the Federal Government to mobilise additional support to Kano State and other states in similar situations.”
The union said it is also calling for a permanent fix to the alamjiri issue.
The union also addressed the current economic downturn.
“The continuous importation of refined petroleum products as a result of the neglect of our oil refineries, perennial distortions in our trade balance, huge patronage of foreign goods and services including medical tourism especially by public officials, the dearth of a national development blueprint and appetite and widespread official corruption has brought us to this cauldron. To navigate out of this mess, we need a surgical socio-economic paradigm shift,” it said.
The union said the currrent challenge has brought to the fore the need for credible data now in Nigeria.
“We call for the empowering of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) with a fresh mandate to capture every Nigerian with all the relevant demographic information within the next two years.”
The union expressed concerns that food insecurity looms due to the restriction in the free movement of foodstuff across various checkpoints in the country “contrary to the clear directives of Nigerian President”.
“We call on all security operatives at different checkpoints to respect and adhere to the directives of Mr President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces who had ordered the free movement of foodstuff across the country. This is very critical to avoid a worse pandemic than COVID-19. Certainly, we do not want to start dealing with “Hunger-20,” the union said.
As of Sunday night, Nigeria had recorded 4399 cases of the virus. Of these, 778 have recovered and have been discharged while 143 deaths were recorded in 34 states and the Federal Capital Territory.