Lagos medical workers have called off their strike action which commenced last night.
The union had on Wednesday declared an indefinite sit-at-home action, to protest the harassment they have been receiving from security agencies enforcing the nationwide curfew.
NMA’s initial position
According to a statement from the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), the strike action commenced at 6 pm Wednesday evening, and was initially supposed to last until the authorities clarified the exemptions to the nationwide curfew.
The union stated that it had become hazardous for its members “to continue to provide healthcare under the present confused arrangement”. The statement cited a recent development whereby an ambulance conveying a patient was grounded and prevented from moving to its destination, even as the attending health workers were harassed and temporarily detained.
The union had also made it clear that its members will return to work as soon as the authorities conclude a proper implementation of the curfew with the security agencies.
IG clears the air
Shortly after the NMA made its announcement, the Inspector General of Police Mr Mohammed Adamu, issued a statement directing personnel to ensure that essential workers are exempted from the curfew, especially health workers.
The statement, which was signed by the Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), DCP Frank Mbah, called on the Zonal Assistant Inspectors General of Police (AIGs) and Commissioners of Police (CPs), to give maximum effect to the orders and extend due courtesies to essential service providers so affected.
“The force is not oblivious of the sensitive, indispensable, patriotic and front line role of the nation’s workforce that falls within the category of Essential Service Providers in government efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
“To this effect, all essential workers including medical personnel, ambulance service providers, journalists and firefighters remain exempted from the movement restriction orders as well as the national curfew,” he said.
The decision to call off the strike appears to be a response to Adamu’s statement.
Recall that with the commencement of the gradual easing of the lockdown, President Muhammadu Buhari had declared a nationwide curfew from 8 pm to 6 am. Essential workers such as medical professionals are the only exemptions to the rule.
Nigeria currently has 6677 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus, with 200 deaths and 1840 recoveries. Unfortunately, Lagos State has remained the epicenter of the virus in Nigeria, accounting for a significant percentage of the country’s overall active cases.
Ondo resident doctors call off strike
In a related development, the Association of Resident Doctors of the University of Medical Sciences Teaching Hospital Complex (UNIMEDTHC) Ondo State, has called off its planned strike.
According to a report from NAN, the Acting President of the Association’s branch, Shittu Abiola announced this development in Akure on Wednesday, stating that the government had met some of their demands.
Sequel to their one-week ultimatum to the Ondo state government, the government had paid two out of their outstanding 2019 salaries arrears, as part of efforts to clear outstanding payments.
Abiola however urged the government not to ignore other demands, particularly the reconciliation and payment of salaries of the newly-employed Medical Officers who resumed in March, and to make subsequent salary payments regular.
Some of the resolutions the congress reached alongside their decision to call off the strike includes;
“That our salaries henceforth be made regular and paid as and when due, with May 2020 salary paid on or before 7th June 2020.
“That the new hazard allowance for health workers (50% of basic salary) be paid at the end of May as promised at the meeting with the Head of Service (HoS) on April 30, 2020.
“Immediate reconciliation and payment of the salaries of the newly employed Medical Officers who resumed in March but were excluded from March and April remunerations.
“That September 2019 arrears and January 2020 shortfall be paid on or before July 31, 2020,” Mr Abiola said in a statement.
(READ MORE: Covid-19 Update in Nigeria)
COVID-19 Update in Nigeria
On the 21st of September 2020, 195 new confirmed cases and 2 deaths were recorded in Nigeria.
The spread of novel Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) in Nigeria continues to record increases as the latest statistics provided by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control reveal Nigeria now has 57,437 confirmed cases.
On the 21st of September 2020, 195 new confirmed cases and 2 deaths were recorded in Nigeria, having carried out a total daily test of 1,162 samples across the country.
To date, 57,437 cases have been confirmed, 48,674 cases have been discharged and 1,100 deaths have been recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. A total of 480,874 tests have been carried out as of September 21st, 2020 compared to 479,712 tests a day earlier.
COVID-19 Case Updates- 21st September 2020,
- Total Number of Cases – 57,437
- Total Number Discharged – 48,674
- Total Deaths – 1,100
- Total Tests Carried out – 480,874
According to the NCDC, the 195 new cases were reported from 11 states- Enugu (51), Gombe (40), Lagos (39), Plateau (23), FCT (15), Rivers (12), Kaduna (8), Ondo (3), Bauchi (2), Edo (1), Ogun (1).
Meanwhile, the latest numbers bring Lagos state total confirmed cases to 18,982, followed by Abuja (5,566), Oyo (3,254), Plateau (3,231), Edo (2,612), Kaduna (2,356), Rivers (2,255), Delta (1,799), Ogun (1,767), Kano (1,734), Ondo (1,600), Enugu (1,285), Ebonyi (1,038), Kwara (1,025), Abia (881), Katsina (848), Gombe (839), Osun (817), Borno (741), and Bauchi (691).
Imo State has recorded 562 cases, Benue (473), Nasarawa (448), Bayelsa (394), Jigawa (322), Ekiti (317), Akwa Ibom (288), Niger (254), Adamawa (234), Anambra (232), Sokoto (161), Taraba (95), Kebbi (93), Cross River (85), Zamfara (78), Yobe (75), while Kogi state has recorded 5 cases only.
Lock Down and Curfew
In a move to combat the spread of the pandemic disease, President Muhammadu Buhari directed the cessation of all movements in Lagos and the FCT for an initial period of 14 days, which took effect from 11 pm on Monday, 30th March 2020.
The movement restriction, which was extended by another two-weeks period, has been partially put on hold with some businesses commencing operations from May 4. On April 27th, 2020, Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari declared an overnight curfew from 8 pm to 6 am across the country, as part of new measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19. This comes along with the phased and gradual easing of lockdown measures in FCT, Lagos, and Ogun States, which took effect from Saturday, 2nd May 2020, at 9 am.
On Monday, 29th June 2020 the federal government extended the second phase of the eased lockdown by 4 weeks and approved interstate movement outside curfew hours with effect from July 1, 2020. Also, on Monday 27th July 2020, the federal government extended the second phase of eased lockdown by an additional one week.
On Thursday, 6th August 2020 the federal government through the secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 announced the extension of the second phase of eased lockdown by another four (4) weeks.
WHO approves protocol for phase 3 clinical trials for COVID-19 herbal medicine
A COVID-19 herbal medicine has gained approval by WHO for phase 3 clinical trial.
The World Health Organization (WHO), in collaboration with the African Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and the African Union Commission for Social Affairs, has approved a protocol for phase 3 clinical trials of herbal medicine for Covid-19.
The Regional Expert Committee on Traditional Medicine for Covid-19, which was formed by the 3 institutions, while giving the approval also endorsed a charter and terms of reference for the establishment of a data and safety monitoring board for herbal medicine clinical trials.
The Director Universal Health Coverage and Life Course Cluster at WHO Regional Office for Africa, Dr Tumusiime, said, “Just like other areas of medicine, sound science is the sole basis for safe and effective traditional medicine therapies. The onset of COVID-19, like the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, has highlighted the need for strengthened health systems and accelerated research and development programmes, including on traditional medicines.’’
The technical documents that were approved are aimed at empowering and developing a critical mass of technical capacity of scientists in Africa to conduct proper clinical trials to ensure quality, safety and efficacy of traditional medicines in line with international standards.
This appears to add to the global effort to develop vaccines for the coronavirus disease, which are at different trial stages. The WHO had disclosed that there are well over 100 Covid-19 vaccines currently under development across the globe with about 8 of them at the phase 3 trial stage.
The phase 3 clinical trials are quite crucial in fully assessing the safety and efficacy of a new medical product. The data safety and monitoring board will ensure that the accumulated studies data are reviewed periodically against participants’ safety.
The late-stage trial will also make recommendations on the continuation, modification or termination of a trial, based on evaluation of data at predetermined periods during the study.
Dr Tumusiime explained that if a traditional medicine product is found to be safe, efficacious and quality assured, the WHO will recommend for a fast-tracked, large-scale local manufacturing. The WHO also noted that through the African Vaccine Regulatory Forum, there is now a benchmark upon which clinical trials of medicines and vaccines in the region can be assessed and approved in less than 60 days.
The Expert Committee Chairman, Professor Motlalepula Gilbert Matsabisa said, “The adoption of the technical documents will ensure that universally acceptable clinical evidence of the efficacy of herbal medicines for the treatment of COVID-19 is generated without compromising the safety of participants.”
The 25-member Regional Expert Advisory Committee on Traditional Medicine for Covid-19 was mandated to support countries to improve on research and development of traditional medicine based therapies against the virus.
It is to also provide guidance on the implementation of the approved protocols to generate scientific evidence on the quality, safety and efficacy of herbal medicines for Covid-19.
FG says international passengers must be tested by private labs 7 days after returning
The directive is aimed at early detection of the virus and reducing the risk of its further transmission.
The Federal Government has announced that all returning international passengers must be tested by a certified private laboratory after 7 days, on returning to the country.
This disclosure was made by the National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Covid-19, Dr. Sani Aliyu, during the briefing of the task force on Thursday, September 17, 2020.
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He said that it was to enable early detection of the coronavirus disease and reduce the risk of its further transmission.
Dr. Aliyu stated, “To enable early detection and reduce the risk of further transmission based on data and our current laboratory capacity, all incoming travelers must be tested by a certified private laboratory after 7 days of returning to the country.
And there are only three criteria for these private laboratories to get on to the portal. Firstly, they have to be licensed through the Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria. Secondly, they must have undergone a process of validation and optimization by NCDC, and then thirdly, they must be accredited by the state government because their results will feed into the state numbers.’’
He said that the Federal Government had already reached out to states, urging them to work with the private laboratories within their areas and come up with the list of accredited laboratories that were able to meet those requirements.
Although Dr. Sani Aliyu revealed that at the moment, they only had portals for Lagos and Abuja, he said there were arrangements with the laboratories serving these areas to be responsible for collecting samples for passengers outside Lagos and Abuja.
He also noted that they were working very hard to open up more private laboratories across the rest of the country. He said that the government believed that as more laboratories get registered and came on to the portal, it would be easier to continue to push down the cost of PCR test.
All incoming travellers must be tested by a certified private laboratory after seven days of returning to the country. – Sani Aliyu, PTF National Coordinator.#PTFBriefing #COVID19Update#COVID19 pic.twitter.com/bImya7abxo
— Channels Television (@channelstv) September 17, 2020