The federal government said on Thursday that its policy on
self-isolation, which prescribes that people should stay at home for
certain time to authenticate their COVID-19 status has failed, saying
this was the reason quarantining was made compulsory for all those
coming into Nigeria.
The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire,
made this known on Thursday in Abuja during the daily briefing of the
Presidential Task Force on COVID-19. He specifically made reference to
people especially those coming into the country by air, land or sea,
saying there were many COVID-19 cases from such persons.
Trust recalled that Nigeria’s index case was recorded on February 27,
almost a month after the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the
COVID-19 outbreak as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern
Earlier on January 11, China reported the first novel
coronavirus related death of a 61-year-old man who had visited the
animal market in Wuhan.
Many returnees flouted self-isolation advisory
the time under review, thousands of people came to Nigeria by air, land
or sea and after preliminary checks at their point of entry, they were
allowed to go home and observe self -isolation.
However, most of
them reportedly flouted this advisory even though they came into
Nigeria from countries that recorded many coronavirus cases. Some of the
travellers later turned out positive with health experts saying this
“lapses” had to greater extent paved the way for the transmission of the
virus to those close to the suspected cases and at the same time
aggravated community transmission which Nigeria is now battling to stop.
As of Wednesday, May 6, Nigeria had 3,145 confirmed cases with
103 deaths from COVID-19, while 534 people have recovered. The cases
were recorded in 34 states of the federation and the Federal Capital
‘Policy designed to fail’
National Publicity Secretary of the Association of Medical Laboratory
Scientists of Nigeria (ALMSN), Dr. Casmir Ifeanyi, said the self-
isolation protocol deployed by the federal ministry of health and the
Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) at the wake of the COVID-19
outbreak in the country was designed to fail from the beginning because
it did not take into cognisance the undisciplined nature of the human
species where impunity is the demonstration of how rugged or powerful
people think they are.
He said the federal government stipulated
that those with travel history abroad should self -isolate, but that
many of those with the travel history were the bigwigs in the country
who refused to self -isolate. He said: “Rather, they mingled with
politicians and the populace and even travelled to other states to meet
with governors and attended social gatherings.” Dr. Casmir said if
people had been quarantined on arrival from the beginning, the country
would not have had the outcome it has now. “So, the self -isolation
policy is a self -defeatist policy.
The quarantine policy is
better and all -encompassing, but to implement it, government must
ensure there is no duplicity and that it must be self -cutting. It
should be sacrosanct for all irrespective of who you are and not
discriminatory,” he said.
Quarantine replaces self-isolation
order to curb the incidence of such cases coming in and forming
clusters of new infections across the country, the provision of
self-isolation has now been replaced with quarantining of returnees on
arrival,” the health minister said. According to him, “The policy we
have now is that anybody arriving Nigeria from anywhere whether by air,
land or by sea will go into quarantine for 14 days. During those 14
days, they will be observed for any signs or symptoms of COVID-19
disease. They will be tested at the beginning and at the end. “We don’t
have a provision for isolation at home. At the very beginning, we had
that provision that if you came in and did not have a symptom, you
isolate at home.
Since then, all the cases we are dealing with
now came in and multiplied. In order to reduce the incidence of cases
coming in and then forming clusters of new infections, the provision has
now changed to what we call isolation-one or quarantine. “Quarantine is
for those who have not been confirmed or who are under isolation. If
during the period, signs and symptoms show up, they will be tested. If
they are positive they will go to treatment centres.
f after 14
days they show no symptoms or signs and they are tested and are
negative, they are free to go. That is the protocol we have now.” “I
join the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) in
welcoming the first batch of Nigerian nationals, who were successfully
repatriated yesterday evening to Lagos from Dubai. They have entered
into mandatory supervised 14-day quarantine, in 2 designated hotels, in
line with laid down protocols.
“They will be tested for COVID-19
and any person testing positive shall be invited to a treatment
facility. I appeal to our returning citizens to bear with us and
cooperate with authorities, especially if they perceive imperfections in
our arrangements, as this is a test run, the first of these exercises,”
‘Build 300-bed COVID-19 centres’
been complaints by COVID-19 patients and those picked during contact
tracing that they are being taken care of especially at the state level.
Earlier this week, some patients in Gombe stormed the streets in
protest over alleged failure of the state government to take good care
of them. The health minister during the COVID-19 briefing on Thursday
urged states government to ensure that they treat COVID-19 patients with
“I shall here also request all states to embark on
preparing at least 300 bed spaces for COVID-19 isolation and treatment.
“As testing is scaled up and more persons with COVID-19 infection are
identified, it is necessary that they are safely and securely isolated
and treated with dignity until they test negative, to break our chain of
transmission,” the minister said. The Director-General of the Nigeria
Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, added: “People
have not committed a crime, so they are not being held in prison.
we really want to work together with everyone to ensure that we all
achieve our goals. “The security in treatment and isolation centres is
the same thing like any other established organisation as security is
the responsibility of the police working with the states government in
that particular place. “In certain circumstances, the states have had to
increase the security in those facilities. In honesty, we don’t want to
‘securitise’ this response. We want people and organisations to take