edical doctors are less enthusiastic about the Federal Government’s lifting of the ban on interstate travels which was initially put in place in order to curtail the spread of the ravaging coronavirus which hit the country early in the year.
In separate interviews with Sunday Telegraph they maintained that there was no need for the ban ab nitio as the order was never properly observed which has aided the spike in the number of cases being recorded in the country with the highest daily number recorded on the eve of the lifting of the ban on Tuesday, June 30.
Chairman, Lagos State Chapter, Guild of Medical Directors (GMD), Dr. Dapo Morawo said there was no real lock down in the first instance.
“Police were collecting money on the roads, aircrafts were flying. People were moving around,” he said.
Speaking further he said: “The solution now is enforcement of the wearing of face masks by everyone, everywhere and government should make tests easily available everywhere. In absolute terms, there was movement across state boundaries. That is the reality despite government position.”
On the reported cases of 790 on Monday, he said: “It is not a true reflection of the community spread; rather it is a measure of government’s capacity to test.”
He finds a supporter in the President, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Chapter, Association of Resident Doctors (FCT-ARD), Dr. Roland Aigbovo, who also said there was no point for the ban, since a good number of positive cases in a state emanated from an infected person from another state.
In his words: “The ban on interstate movement one way or the other was not effective because people were still moving up and down though the number was limited but it actually contributed to the high increase in the number because somebody from Kogi where they said there is no COVID-19, where no test is being done all come into Abuja because of the stand of the state government.
“The same thing with those in Kano; leaving one location to another location, travelling as though he is free whereas there are other occupants in the vehicle that are exposed and those not having the mind-set of going to the hospital because they are asymptomatic and so they keep spreading this and increasing the community transmission.”
On his part, explaining why it is ill advised to ease the lock-down on interstate movement presently, Prof. Femi Babalola who is the president of the Guild of Medial Directors (GMD), said considering the rise in the number of persons that test positive to coronavirus in recent time in the country, governments should critically consider the idea of locking down only the COVID-19 host spots – that is, the local governments that have been identified as such.
The National Coordinator, Africa Health Budget Network (AHBN), Dr. Aminu Magashi, noted that with COVID-19 already in community transmission, having a ban on interstate movement was no longer necessary.
Commending the Federal Government for its removal, he insisted federal and state governments should put measures in place to contain further spread of the virus across state borders.
“Now that we have established community transmission, blocking the state movement may not be the best approach. I support the PTF for removing the interstate lockdown but government should ensure use of temperature checks, use of face masks and a level of social distancing in the vehicles in order to curb overcrowding.
“Also, nothing stops the states from providing hand sanitizers; some clean water so that as people are crossing the border they are promoting hygiene. They should also share simple flyers in local dialects to further enlighten the people.”
Magashi, who urged civil society organisations and individuals to assist government in consistent enlightenment on preventive measures of COVID-19, called on individuals to embrace improved personal hygiene.
“We need to step up as individuals. The CSOs, media should come to the aid of the government, explore power of the social media in very simple languages, encourage governments at all levels to ensure compliance to the guidelines. Let us not lose hope even though we are having a lot of challenges. Do what is right; improve personal hygiene practice social distancing.”
On his part, Aigbovo, President FCT-ARD, also advised individuals to take responsibility to ensure the virus was contained.
“Let’s not deceive ourselves COVID-19 is real, the best we can do with ourselves is to partner with government they cannot do everything for us. We must also do our bit to contain this virus. For instance we don’t need the government to tell us to wash our hands, use hand sanitizers, wear face masks and practice social distancing.
“Even if they try to enforce it as much as they can, it can never be as effective as if we as Nigerians, as individuals own this precautionary measures to protect and prevent or bring down the community transmission because at the end of the day, if the transmission continues many lives will be lost, the health facilities that are almost non-existent will be strained and we will find ourselves in a very difficult and precarious situation.”