COVID-19: TIME TO CHANGE STRATEGY

COVID-19: TIME TO CHANGE STRATEGY
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As the lock down is entering its fourth week in Lagos, Abuja and Ogun it has become imminent for the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, the Governors Forum and other stakeholders to have a review of the three weeks old lock down to suit the present reality.

It is necessary for the overall review of nationwide situation report with regard to the ongoing lockdowns and social distancing initiatives being implemented all over the country.

There is also the need to evaluate the effectiveness of the lockdowns (in our bid to manage the pandemic) as well as the unintended consequences which they continue to generate.

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Since the commencement of the lockdowns in Lagos & Ogun States plus Abuja/FCT more than 3 weeks ago that is now extended to all the States of the Federation, the number of people being infected has climbed steadily (as expected) and the spread to various parts of the country has continued apace. To date, over 30 persons are confirmed as having died on account of COVID-19. Meanwhile, several Nigerians appear to have been killed by the security agencies in their bid to enforce various compulsory lockdown measures, and several homes attacked by hoodlums. A situation where Nigerians are being killed daily by law enforcement agencies at almost the same pace as the Coronavirus kills them is totally unacceptable.

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It is time to review the strategy, as it is clear that the compulsory lock downs are not working. Food has become a lot more expensive in various urban centres, as transportation costs have soared due to rising security obstacles, arbitrary closure of inter-state borders and other supply chain disruptions. Restricted market days and curfews often result in needless overcrowding thereby negating adherence to Social Distancing. The longer the Compulsory Lockdowns continue, the higher the risk of a breakdown in law and order, despite the best efforts of Government and other well-meaning Nigerians in distributing food and money to those in need.

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Aljazirah Nigeria believes there is a need to change direction from a compulsory lockdown to an Intelligent Lockdown which largely thrives on voluntary actions by an informed populace. The original expected benefit of the Compulsory Lockdowns was to buy some time so that public enlightenment and awareness campaigns could educate the populace whilst also helping to popularize self-quarantine. These awareness campaigns and self-quarantine measures have helped and they should continue.

To implement an Intelligent Lockdown, Aljazirah Nigeria envisages that most economic activities should be allowed to resume cautiously. In addition, we recommend an end to the compulsory lockdowns and intensify public enlightenment and awareness of the importance of behavioural changes i.e. Social Distancing in public and in public transportation (with rules that prevent overcrowding), wearing masks, improve sanitation and provision of water in public places to facilitate washing of hands. We also urge the 3-tiers of Government, NGOs and the Private Sector to distribute to all citizens reusable/washable masks and ensure that security and healthcare professionals have the right Personal Protective Equipment for their roles.
The suspension of large public, social and religious gatherings should continue until further notice and schools should remain closed. Those who can, should work from home.
The Federal Government should make arrangements for Nigerians trapped abroad to return home.

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What Nigeria needs now is movement towards an intelligent and sustainable lockdown which is based largely around voluntary compliance. The more Nigerians understand, the more they can self-regulate.

Aljazirahnews


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