Thairu, who called on government to assist health workers, said the 22 critically ill patients were on oxygen.
Recall that the Federal Government last week said the country had entered the second wave of coronavirus and strongly advised Nigerians to adhere to COVID-19 preventive measures.
Also, following reports of a likely spread of a deadlier strain of COVID-19 from the United Kingdom and South Africa, on Thursday the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 imposed fresh requirements on passengers from the two countries.
According to the PTF, the requirements include opening of registers for passengers from the UK and South Africa.
However, there were fears on Friday when the Chairman of the FCT chapter of the NMA, Dr Enema Amodu, at a press conference, said 20 doctors across the country had died of the virus in the last one week.
Expressing concern about the death of the doctors, the NMA president, in the interview with The PUNCH, said, “Let me just say that even if it is one doctor, that died of COVID-19 in the process of providing service to the nation to prevent death, to us it is sad. No doctor should die providing services for the nation.”
Ujah said the association would write the Ministry of Health and the PTF to support the training of medical doctors.
Ujah said the medical doctors could have contracted the virus from patients they treated. This, he said, explained the insistence of the NMA that doctors must be trained in disease prevention and control.
He called on government to provide personal protective equipment, running water, soap and gloves for doctors and other health workers.
We need to train our young doctors – Association
The NMA president stated, “Let me plead that we need to be protected by having training among our people. Younger doctors are coming up and COVID-19, we don’t know when it will end or the extent it can go. The only thing we need is infection prevention and control.
“We need to contact the PTF and Ministry of Health to support our training. We need to write a proposal so that we can train doctors and health workers throughout the nation in infection prevention and control.”
When asked to be specific on when the proposal would be written, the NMA president stated, “There is holiday now, unless, there is an emergency but by the time we resume, we will do that.”
When asked if he meant January, he said, “Yes, in January we will do that.”
Ujah recalled that the association once advised government to ban flights from the UK and the United States, but the advice was not heeded.
The NMA president stated, “Government knows that they (travellers from the UK and the US) are the ones responsible for increase in cases and the results have shown that and government knows what they should do.
“The travellers should be quarantined for 14 days as they come; to allow for monitoring and evaluation and they should repeat the test and if they are positive, the people should be moved to isolation centres.
He stated, “Whether the strains are deadlier or not, once we observe the protocols, we are not likely to have this avalanche of cases and deaths that are being recorded in recent times.
“It (new strain) will worsen death rate, but once the NCDC protocols are observed, they will prevent people from dying. The rule is to obey and comply with NCDC protocols.
“While doing this, we must continue to increase sensitisation. The National Orientation Agency and other organisations should come out with jingles in different languages in Nigeria. Some people still don’t believe that there is COVID-19, but the reality is that it is killing people in large numbers.”
The president of NANNM, in an interview with The PUNCH on Sunday said, “As a professional association, we can only say government should take a very proactive measure by banning flights from an area whereby the new variant is available or commence treatment in form of diagnosis for anybody that is coming into the country.”
He also said government had not provided enough PPE for nurses.
A Professor of Virology, Department of Virology, University of Ibadan, Prof. David Olaleye, said that what was important for the citizens is to adhere strictly to preventive measures.
Olaleye, in an interview with The PUNCH, said, “The new strain has no direct implication on the citizens if people would adhere to the public health measures of preventing its spread. These are hands hygiene, use of face masks and physical distancing.”
22 out of 86 FCT COVID-19 patients in critical condition, on oxygen
In Abuja, Thairu said no fewer than 22 coronavirus patients out of 86 at the treatment centres in the FCT were in critical conditions.
He urged the government to provide more oxygen as well as boost the morale of the frontline workers.
Speaking on Sunday, during a tour of the COVID-19 treatment centre at the UATH by the Permanent Secretary in the FCT Administration, Adesola Olusade, Thairu said, “We have severe and critical cases coming in and the need for oxygenation cannot be over-emphasised. As of today, 22 of the patients are on oxygen.”
All health workers have not been paid allowances since September — Medical superintendent
The Medical Superintendent at the Thisday Dome Centre, Dr Molokwu Victor, said all categories of frontline workers had not been paid their allowances since September 2020.
He stated, “All the categories of staff are being owed their allowances, but the secretary for health has promised that we should expect something soon; that the FCT Administration is working on the allowances.”
The permanent secretary explained that the tour of the centres was necessary to ensure that they were adequately functional because of the resurgence of the pandemic in the nation’s capital.
According to him, while non-critical cases are being managed at home, 86 patients are receiving treatment at both the UATH and the Thisday Dome Centre.
Olusade assured that the administration was paying attention to the complaints of non-payment of allowances by the health workers at Thisday Dome, noting that the centre was just recently transferred to the FCTA by the Federal Ministry of Health.
Meanwhile, the Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria, FCT chapter and Senior Pastor, ECWA Good News, Maitama, Rev Samson Jonah, has tasked government officials on the need to adhere to all safety protocols even as they enforced regulations.
Speaking during the visit of the FCT task force on COVID-19 restrictions, the cleric said, “We are saying that as we continue to comply, let us also see the government functionaries doing the same thing because leadership should be by example.”
The head of the task force, Ikharo Attah, expressed satisfaction with the compliance level at the church and others visited by his team, adding that the unit would also visit the mosques on Friday, to ensure compliance with the regulations.
On his part, a businessman, Mr John Ogunlela, warned Nigerians not to joke with the coronavirus pandemic, saying that the country was battling second wave already.
In an interview with one of our correspondents on Sunday, Ogunlela said it was unfortunate that many Nigerians thought they were immune to the virus.
He said, “We should not have this illusion that there is something special about Nigeria that made it impossible for COVID-19 to attack us. All the while, the casualty figures had been minimal and it had made us to think that something is special about us. Some said God is specially protecting Nigeria and that kind of notion is very dangerous.”
CAN appeals to Ogun over crossover services
But as the fear over COVID-19 spread worsened, CAN, Ogun State chapter, on Sunday appealed to the state government to allow churches hold crossover services.
CAN noted that the directive of the state government had caused misgivings among churches in all parts of the state.
The state governor, Dapo Abiodun, had, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Kunle Somorin, suspended crossover services and carnivals for the New Year in view of the increase in COVID-19 cases in the country.
The state Chairman of CAN, Bishop Tunde Akin-Akinsanya in a statement titled ‘a passionate appeal for the observance of cross-over night “ said there had been serious concerns over the ban.
He stated, “I hereby write on behalf of the leadership and entire structure of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Ogun State, to solicit the indulgence of your Excellency to allow for the observance of the crossover services among the churches in Ogun State just as it is in our neighbouring Lagos State.”
Face mask: We are stepping up advocacy, enforcement, says Lagos
Also, the Lagos State Government said it was stepping up advocacy and enforcement to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
The state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Gbenga Omotosho, stated this in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents on Sunday.
Omotosho said due to the population of the state, the state would do more advocacy than harassing those who breached the law.
He said, “The truth is that Lagos is heavily populated. And you need the whole strength of the Nigeria police to enforce that (face mask) in Lagos alone. But the police are doing their best. The safety commission is also doing its best. Today (Sunday), they shut an event centre where a wedding party held yesterday. People raised hell on social media over that event and the government went there to shut it down.
“People who are not wearing face masks and those going to night clubs are being paraded on the television. Last weekend, some popular night clubs were shut down. So, the enforcement is there.
“But what some people want to see is police beating people so that they can put it on social media and start another #EndSARS. In Lagos, we don’t do that. We are stepping up our advocacy and enforcement with a human face.”
The Senior Special Assistant to the state Governor on New Media, Gawat Jubril, on Sunday evening on the social media, said Queens Park Event Centre, Oniru was shut and its licence revoked.