COVID-19: Groups Expresses dismay over lifting of bans on some gatherings

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COVID-19: Groups Expresses dismay over lifting of bans on some
gatherings

By: Femi Mustapha

A Group under the auspices of
Health Sector Reform Coalition
(HSRC) has expressed
shock, concern and fear, over the lifting of bans on some
gatherings including Friday prayers and Easter services, by some states.

This was contained in a statement signed by Mike Egboh and Dr. Chizoba Wonodi
(HSRC COVID-19 Response Task Team Co-chairs respectively.

The statement stated that
the lockdown in the FCT, Lagos and similar decision by some governors across the country was a welcome development saying it is important for
containing the spread of COVID-19 avoiding the high number of deaths that might follow and the
disastrous effects on the health system and economy, as we are seeing with countries like US, Italy, Spain, UK,
amongst others.

“HSRC with its membership of over 100 non-governmental actors, working to improve health care and development across every state in Nigeria, recognises and respects the importance of worship and religious celebrations to us Nigerians.

“We acknowledge and value the role of religious leaders and faith-based organizations in providing spiritual support through faith for their followers in a healthy and safe environment.

“HSRC further appreciates the socio-economic difficulties being faced by our people over the lockdown across
the country.

“Unfortunately, options are limited for now in the best ways to fight the spread. Scientific evidence and experience from developed and developing countries reinforce that avoiding crowd, physical distancing,
handwashing and respiratory hygiene are still the best ways to prevent the spread and associated deaths.

“With the high number of people living in poverty, high prevalence of chronic diseases such as hypertension and
diabetes (underlying diseases) and very weak health systems, it will be catastrophic if the virus spreads widely
in Nigeria.

“Data from the WHO and Johns Hopkins shows that 1.6 million people have tested positive and more than 95
thousand have died from COVID-19 between December 2019 to April 9, 2020. While majority of infections and
deaths have been in developed countries, both infections and deaths are also rising in Africa. Cases in Nigeria
have multiplied from one to 288 in six weeks with seven deaths. Number of states with established cases have
risen from one to 17 within the same period.

“Trends from other countries shows that without drastic measures such as maintaining lockdowns and distancing, the numbers can easily rise exponentially over a short time. Between February 27 and March 27, the US went from 54 to 100,522 cases while Italy went from 593 to 66,414 in one month!

“Because our testing is grossly inadequate, the true numbers of cases in Nigeria may be hidden.

“It is highly likely that community spread is happening because up to 85% of the infected may be asymptomatic yet capable of transmitting the virus.

” Our containment is still in the nascent stage, this is not the time to relax our guard.

“The couple of weeks are very critical in containing an upsurge in the number of confirmed cases.

“As the Health Sector Reform Coalition of Nigeria, we:Implore our governors to cancel all plans or reverse the directives to lift the ban on religious and other
gatherings until the NCDC and Federal Ministry of Health advise otherwise – No matter the pressure, this is not
the time for populism.

” Call on the federal government and state governments to increase the delivery of economic mitigation packages to households and individuals that are in need, to reduce the pressure on people to go out for their daily living.

” Ask all Nigerians to PLEASE continue to listen to the advice of health experts represented by NCDC and WHO at this critical time. Nothing is more important than staying alive. ” The statement reads

The Group further informed Nigerians that COVID-19 does not go to sleep at night, market days, Fridays or Sundays and
Infected people without any symptoms can still transmit the virus.

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