The fear of a 3rd wave of the coronavirus resurgence in Nigeria may have informed the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19 to reintroduce some restrictions on movement and social interactions in the country. According to the PSC coordinator, Dr. Mukhtar Muhammad, the step was taken as a precaution to avert the ugly experience of India, Pakistan, Thailand, Brazil and Turkey where the relaxation of COVID-19 protocols and return of religious and political activities are believed to have led to massive rise in infections and deaths.
While calling for caution, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, had also said that the lessons to be learnt from the cases in India, and the other places are to avoid crowds and mass gatherings whether for politics or religion. Commercial or social occasions, he had advised, are to be avoided while wearing masks at all times should be imbibed by all.
“We should also not chat or do business with anyone not wearing a mask, making sure we frequently wash our hands or sanitise hands and cover our mouth when sneezing or coughing,” he added. But, in their reactions, some medical experts tend to differ with such recommendations.
While a few of them believe that quick cure rather than restrictions should be the way to go, others disagreed, saying the government should be applauded instead for its proactive actions. For instance, a Professor of Veterinary Medicine and Clinical Virology at the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Abia State, Maduike Ezeibe, noted that COVID-19 is a serious disease but that the infection is very fragile and easy to terminate.
Ezeibe, who believes that what the world needs is a medicine for quick cure of the disease, said such medicine must not come from advanced countries before the Nigerian governments recognise and accept it. What the government agencies are doing, according to him, is to try and copy what other countries are doing. Developing medicines for quick cure of COVID-19, the professor said, is a better control- measure for the pandemic than current efforts. So, treating every infected person with a medicine, he said, may solve the problem of constant mutation by the COVID-19 virus, which leads to new variants.
Testing all citizens of all nations and isolating/treating all positive persons, he added, would interrupt transmission of the virus and lead to its eventual eradication. He said: “Unfortunately, even the countries being copied are still in trouble.
I said earlier that vaccination will not control the pandemic because it will not be easy to achieve enough coverage and immunity from the vaccines that may not last long enough. I did not even factor the rapid mutation which creates new variants. Now India is in big trouble yet Nigeria wants to keep copying them. “The restrictions just announced show the people have run out of ideas.
It is not because nobody has been guiding them but they chose not to listen. Is there anybody who does not know that a medicine that has opposite charges will bond onto COVID-19 virus since it is positively charged? How would wearing face masks to government offices protect Nigerians when schools, churches, mosques, markets can go on without the masks? “Nigerian government should call on the world to adopt opposite charges of electrostatic attraction from the Medicinal synthetic Aluminum-magnesium silicate (MSAMS) to terminate COVID-virus infection for quick cure of the disease. Already, patients in Nigeria, Tanzania and Cameroon, who were in self-isolation and used it to treat themselves recovered within hours
A suspected case in Nigeria that took just one dose before NCDC came to pick him was declared not infected. “Is there anything wrong in Nigeria asking the World Health Organisation (WHO) to test our own medicine and confirm its efficacy? After all, they were testing Chloroquine without any scientific hypothesis to support the hope. Why then will we not believe that a medicine that has both negative and positive ends will use them to mop a virus which is positively charged and cells it infects become negatively charged.? Does that hypothesis not make sense just because it is coming from Nigeria? “At least the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) has agreed the MSAMS is safe and they found it so good that they put it in writing that ‘there is ongoing research on the MSAMS at the institute’.
That research started in December 2019. If the MSAMS was not useful why are they still on it? We have the cure for viral diseases including COVID-19 and HIV/ AIDS which can make us very great. What we lack is national pride. “Nigeria should consider calling on WHO to adopt, as a strategy, mopping COVID-19 virus and infected cells, with opposite charges from MSAMS-Nanoparticles, for quick cure of any infected person, in order to eradicate the pandemic.” However, another professor of virology, Oyewale Tomori, has said that the essence of the restrictions is to prevent the possibility of a third wave by limiting the spread of the virus through human transmission. The use of masks, he also said, was a call to all Nigerians in every part of the country as every sector, according to him, was included.
“The government has tried to be serious; unfortunately Nigerians have not complied with the guidelines provided by the government. The fault is more with the people than the government. The Indian variant in the country is not a speculation…
it is a reality. We have evidence of the presence in Edo and Osun states of that variant, but not the Brazilian strain in Nigeria,” Tomori said. Dr. Doyin Odubanjo, executive secretary of the Nigerian Academy of Science and a past chairman of the Association of Public Health Physicians of Nigeria, also said that the essence of the guidelines is precautionary to ensure that Nigeria is not caught unawares given the recent upsurges in some countries. This is particularly worrisome, he said, with the Indian variant of the virus apparently being more infectious and now spreading. Odubanjo said: “The guidelines could be a little clearer but also talks of mask use on commercial premises. The government is serious but it’s more difficult getting people to comply given the seeming low number of cases.
The report of the variant is coming from the lab(s) that have the capacity to detect it.” For Prof. Olufemi Babalola, President, Guild of Medical Directors, the restrictions are very necessary, according to him, because “we cannot afford to lower our guard at this time. I am very happy that this time the government is being proactive. As you know, we already have the Indian variant in the country and that variant is one that spread very rapidly in the population.
“So, if we are not proactive and we allow the Indian variant to take root, we will be in very big trouble. In fact I’d have preferred the restrictions to be more stringent than what we have currently for the simple reason that our vaccination rate is very low in the country and I don’t think there is any immediate plan to get more vaccines at the moment.
“For the mask, the whole idea is that the government starts from where they know they have 100 per cent control. If you look at the United States also, the mask mandate that President Joe Biden put out only covered the federal establishments and some airlines.
That is because these are the areas where Biden has direct control. “We are also running a federal system in Nigeria now and it’s difficult for the Federal Government but what the officials need to do is to lead by example so that attempt will be made to persuade the governors to keep to the mandate. Let them start from where they have absolute control so that the masses can take a cue; I think that’s the whole message, and there certainly is no excuse for government officials to flout the protocols or any directives.
“If you notice, initially when they came out with this initiative, the president himself did not obey the rules, everybody that visited Aso Rock would wear a mask except the president, but now he wears his mask on a regular basis. His aides must have talked to him on the need to show a good example.
So, if the president can do that, then who is that official that can’t obey the law of wearing a mask; there is absolutely no excuse to go that way.” The National President, National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), Dr. Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, also believes the new restriction is not a bad idea having seen the experience of India in recent times. It is, to him, a way of trying to protect the people from getting infected. To that extent, he thinks it’s good that the government took proactive measures, which, he said, is a departure from its stance when COVID-19 first reared its ugly heads in Nigeria. He said: “I learnt a strain of the Indian variant was found in Nigeria and that is why we need to be careful not to spread it.
Although there might be some other ulterior motives in why they are trying to enforce a new restriction simply because of the issue of security, talking from the perspective of healthcare, what has been done is the right thing to do at this point in time. “Prevention they say is better than cure and if you ask me the government should go a bit further to enforce in totality the COVID-19 protocols like the wearing of masks, washing of hands and not being in crowded environments for instance.
They should also go further to intensify the issue of vaccines. That should not be restricted to only health workers and a few other people; every Nigerian deserves to be vaccinated in order to properly fight this scourge.” Dr. Rotimi Adesanya, a Family physician and primary care paediatrician, also said: “I believe the new restrictions are to prevent a possible 3rd wave and the ugly experience of India is not something any nation should wish for its people. To that extent, it’s a welcome development. For once, our people in authority were proactive and they deserve kudos in my opinion for that. “We almost missed it the very first time and they didn’t want the same thing to repeat itself and because this variant that is out now is deadlier than what has been reported in India and a few other countries.
“However, the authorities usually lack political will to fully implement these restrictions to the latter; in this instance campaigns to enlighten the people are key. In addition to this, the behaviour of some government officials, especially in flouting the COVID-19 protocols, does not motivate the people to obey the rules.” Meanwhile, the PSC on COVID-19 has said that about 1,690,719 persons had received the first dose of the vaccine in Nigeria, representing 84 per cent of the targeted persons for this phase. Mustapha, therefore, called on state governments to ensure that the vaccination programme continues. He said: “The PSC has also considered several pre-emptive measures to be taken to mitigate the likely impact of the variants of concern should they get imported into Nigeria. This step has become compelling in view of the fragile state of our health systems, the disruption to the vaccines delivery and the lack of compliance with the extant public health measures and social measures contained in the coronavirus disease health protection regulations 2021.”