COVID-19: Maintaining Strict Protocols To Protect People

The Federal government says its strict travel protocols are put in place to protect its citizens from being infected by COVID-19 pandemic. The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, made this known while speaking with newsmen in Abuja on Wednesday, stating that Nigeria had been tagged as a very strict country in terms of travel protocols, explaining that the stand of the government was to protect its people against the spread of the virus.

“We have been accused that our rules are being stringent. We say no. We are not being tough for toughness sake. We are being tough because that is what science demands. We are tough because we want to protect our people. “This is why you will see that the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) has designated and ranked different parts of the globe where the Delta variant is prevalent or the very high risk of contracting COVID- 19, and we have labelled them restricted countries. As of today we have only four of such; South Africa, India, Brazil and Turkey. And there are strict travel protocols around these countries because we want to prevent and protect our people”. He disclosed.

“The first instance, nationals of these countries are not allowed into Nigeria. If you are a Brazilian and you are coming from Brazil and Indian coming from India, a South African coming from South Africa or Turkish coming from Turkey but it doesn’t mean a Brazilian living in London cannot come, you can come if you are coming from London. And also, not everybody coming from these countries are banned, we make exemptions; diplomats are exempted, high level government officials, those coming to fix our infrastructure and economy are exempted by PSC.

“But no matter what category whether Nigerian coming from Turkey or you are exempted for whatever you are coming to do in Nigeria but you must observe the travel protocols which means you check in straight into a quarantined facility approved by the Federal Government. And when you are there, your health is monitored constantly, day two of your arrival, you will do a COVID-19 test, do another one day seven, it is only after you are tested negative at day seven that you are allowed to go home and meet your relations”, the Minister said.

He stated however that, those who are coming from non-restricted countries also have their own protocols to observe, one, they must self-isolate in their respective homes and two, day seven, they must come out and do a test before they are being discharged.

The minister said regrettably, many people who came in from non-restricted countries did not observe self-isolation and even when they did they thought it was an occasion to invite friends and relations.

“It is a dangerous practice. Those doing that are endangering their lives, the lives of their friends and relations.

If you have taken two doses of your AstraZeneca or new Modema, they will not prevent you from catching COVID-19 again, the only advantage you have, if you catch it after you took the vaccine, you won’t be terribly sick, you may not even notice it, you won’t be hospitalized and you will not die ofCOVID-19.

If someone comes in from a country like India for instance even if he is vaccinated and he meets a Nigerian who has been vaccinated, that Nigerian can still catch it because you need to have vaccinated at least 70 per cent of your population.

It is when you have vaccinated 70 per cent of your population before you can achieve what they call herd immunity. Here we are still struggling with two per cent vaccination.

So that is why we put what looks like tough travel protocols around most restricted and non-restricted countries.”

Mohammed, however, noted that this list was not final and any country Nigeria noticed that COVID-19 or delta variant was becoming endemic such country would be added to the list because it was all about safety of lives of the citizens.

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In early 2020, the Covid19 pandemic ravaged us globally pushing aside issues of HIV/AIDS not only in CRS Nigeria but the world at large felt same. The story of HIV/AIDS is still the same before the Covid-19 pandemic if not worse.
In Cross River State with our Digital Governor Prof. Ben Ayade’s passion and efforts of committed and passionate Exco members and with the support of implementing partners in the state, the prevalence rate from the 2018 NAIIS (National Aids Indicator and Impact Survey) puts our state at 2.0%. but this is above the National average of 1.4% and it is the 3rd highest in the South-South after Akwa Ibom State (5.5%) and River state (3.8%). There is still danger since we are in between Akwa Ibom state (5.5%) and Benue state (4.9%) and also playing host to refugee from Cameroun, a country with a high incidence of HIV. And these refugees are actively engaged in social-economic activities with the host communities With the situation on ground so far, we have about 47,936 persons who are HIV positive placed AntiRetroviral therapy (ART) receiving treatment across the state, in tertiary institutions like UTCH, and NNR Hospital. 25 Secondary facilities and 125 Primary Health Facilities. The State Ministry of Health through the State AIDS and STI programme Control (SASCP), are doing their best in the Health Sector HIV Response while the State Agency for Control of AIDs SACA and tackling the Non-Health Sector HIV Response.
The Primary Health Care Development Authority with PHCs spread in the communities make it easy for people who are living with the HIV/AIDS to access their treatments in the Health facilities closest to them. So far with the 47,936
persons on treatment only about 3964 persons are members of support groups of people living with HIV/AIDS. In the state presently, CRINEPWHAN (CRS Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS n Nigeria) haven 80 support
groups spread across the 18 Local Government Areas. The support groups meet monthly and beneficial for HIV positive persons, men women and children in helping them learn how to live positively, share experiences with each other and helping to overcome stigma and discrimination. It has been observed that those who attend support groups have also learned how to adhere to their medications and are virally suppressed.
When one is virally suppressed, you live a healthy life and carry on well with your day to day activities and cannot easily infect others. Thanks to the PMTCT aspect of treatment even couples who are both HIV positive can have negative children.
Unlike other states where most HIV positive persons could not have access to treatment due to the Covid19 lock down, the story of CRS was different since people were accessing their treatment in health facilities in their communities and did not need to travel far. There is still need for activating old support groups that are not functioning again and formation of new support group where the need is greater, in areas like the IDP camps. People who are living with HIV have a responsibility of not willingly infecting others by living positively and avoiding risking

“Unlike other states where most HIV positive persons could not have access to treatment due to the Covid-19 lock down, the story of CRS was different since people were accessing their treatment in health facilities in their communities and did not need to travel far”.

When it comes to HIV/AIDS we are involved because if you are not infected with the virus (PLHIV), you are affected
with the virus (PAPA). This is so because we have all been affected in one way or another. It you have not lost a close relation to AIDS, at least you know somebody who have died from AIDS.
The Network of People Living With HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN) has its national Headquarters in Abuja with a National Coordinator/Excos. So also, in 36 states of Nigeria plus FCT, we have NEPWHAN offices and state Coordinators. Let us join hands and see that our state prevalence is reduced to 0% rather than increase more than the 2.0% we have now.

Cecilia Ofum

State Coordinator (NEPWHAN)

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