Prepare for fresh lockdown, doctors tell Nigerians

•Don’t create reasons for another lockdown, RTEAN tells drivers, conductors •Count cost before going out –NBA

As the partial lifting of the four-week lockdown in Lagos and Abuja ordered by the Federal Government begins today, the Association of Resident Doctors (ARD) has advised Nigerians against risky behaviours or risk another round of shutdowns, if the number of cases continues to rise.

Chairman of the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH) chapter, Dr. Lanre Olosunde, gave the advice  yesterday during an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ilorin.

Olosunde lamented that the partial lifting of lockdown was not the best step at the moment. He pointed out that the fear of COVID-19 should rather drive Nigerians to behave responsibly and follow laid down rules to ensure the prevention of spread and not panic.

“Everyone should also be prepared for another round of possible lockdowns, if cases continue to increase exponentially,” he advised.

President Muhammadu Buhari, in a nationwide broadcast last week, announced a gradual easing of the COVID-19 lockdown in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, and Lagos and Ogun states, from May 4.

The new measures included a nationwide night-time curfew, mandatory wearing of face masks and a ban on “non-essential” travel between different regions.

However, the ARD chairman said: “I think it is not the best choice at this time when we are really seeing the evidence of active community spread of COVID-19.

“This is coupled with the fact that our testing capabilities are still far below what is required.

“I sincerely pray we won’t get to the number of the deaths recorded in Italy or that of United States,” he said.

Olosunde, therefore, advised Nigerians to follow the advice of medical experts on prevention of COVID-19.

He said those who were elderly or those at any age who have underlying chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), HIV and cancer,  among others, need to take extra precautions and stay at home because they were most vulnerable to this disease.

He said people should beware that COVID-19 was deadly, adding that we have seen what it has done to people in other climes, and the fear of COVID-19 should drive all residents to behave responsibly.

Against the backdrop of the lockdown, the Road Transport Employers’ Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) has urged its members to adhere to the Lagos State government’s new transport guidelines to forestall further spread of COVID-19.

Lagos State chairman of RTEAN, Alhaji Mohammed Musa, admonished members to avoid any compromise capable of creating reasons for another lockdown.

According to Musa, RTEAN members have been duly informed and cautioned on the guidelines, and the association will ensure compliance in the interest of society.

“We will like to appeal to our members to cooperate with the the Lagos State government in their interest and in the interest of the society.

“We have all discovered that coronavirus is real and all that government is doing is to prevent further spread of this deadly virus.

“We have told our members not to be careless at all. We are not touts, we are owners who obey law and order. We should not create any situation that will make government declare another round of lockdown.

“We believe our members will shun carelessness and negligence that can stop their source of food, because, if the virus continues to spread beyond normal, government will still impose lockdown,” he said.

The chairman urged bus drivers and conductors to strictly abide by the compulsory use of face masks and social distancing in the buses, and the curfew.

He said passengers without face masks should not be picked. According to him, any member found flouting the safety directives will be sanctioned.

The RTEAN boss called on commercial bus operators to acquire hand sanitisers to sanitise their hands regularly as well as those of passengers before entering their buses.

“Since our members and commuters handle money that has moved from hand to hand, those hands need to be sanitised regularly to avoid spread of COVID-19.

“We don’t want to lose any member but we must also do our part. Life is very important. As owners, let us be careful,” he said.

The union leader said that 14-seater commercial buses should not carry more than eight passengers while tricycle operators should carry only two passengers with face masks.

Musa said the unit, chapel and zonal chairmen of the association had been directed to provide hand sanitisers and hand washing facility at various parks where the union was operating.

The chairman, who also said that the union had taken steps to fumigate parks, directed all its members to disinfect their buses every working day.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ikorodu branch, Lagos, has advised lawyers to count the cost before hitting the streets, as the Federal Government gets set to ease lockdown.

The branch chairman, Mr. Bayo Akinlade, gave the advice in statement in Lagos on Sunday. He noted that some lawyers, like other Nigerians affected by the five-week lockdown, might be  eager to go out as from Monday, to do their jobs.

He advised lawyers to contact court registrars through phone calls to find out the status of their cases before going out.

“I urge all members to count the cost before they leave their homes from Monday, May 4. My advice is that you first contact the court registrars to find out the status of your cases.

“Under no circumstances should you go to court to make inquiries; the less the number of people who move out, the better.

“If you want to file a fresh matter or file a process, make sure you take all precautionary measures – wear your face mask and ensure you have a personal hand sanitiser.”

Akinlade said that the branch had planned a Zoom webinar with a Canadian judge to educate its members on how to use technology to advance their litigation practice, with specific focus on issues around ‘access to justice’.

He advised state governments to give more attention to the magistrates’ and customary courts and provide necessary infrastructure for remote hearings, “as justice is for all people.”

Akinlade said that the  NBA, Ikorodu branch, was willing to support the judiciary with technical support, where required.