Dr Francis Oyema, an Epidemilogist, has urged Federal Government to enforce the COVID-19 protocols to check further spread as infection figures begin to increase.
He made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Monday.
He said that the enforcement became critical, especially with the coronavirus B.1. 617.2, also known as Delta variant in the country.
The Delta variant, believed to be twice as contagious as the original strain of COVID-19, was thought to be responsible for 90 per cent of new cases across the world.
The expert noted that the entire country was required to wear a mask, except persons exempted from the order such as people with disabilities or medical conditions and of specific ages.
He explained that “everywhere I go, I see people moving about without a mask, while some wear it below the nose or hanging around the neck. When there is no enforcement, why have the rule?.
“Enforcement should include business owners, authorities in states, local governments and communities for holistic action.
“There should also be a penalty of between N10,000 and N20,000 , or jail sentence for violation to make people to take the protocols serious.
“Government needs to quickly decide on what is best for its citizens because from what we have seen in India, South Africa and other countries and the rise in infections overwhelming their health system, prevention is our best bet to check the spread of the virus because we cannot cope.”
Oyema also said that government must act fast and must reintroduce strict enforcement of universal mask mandate with frequent inspection of places of mass gathering.
He suggested that government should evolve ways to systematically disseminate warnings and ensure social distance, especially in public busses and offices and ensure that people living in high risk areas open their windows for enough ventilation.
He added that strong public health leadership and concerted efforts must be made by government agencies, the media and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to promote mask hygiene, respiratory hygiene, frequent washing of hands under running water or use of hand sanitiser, social distancing, and vaccination.
He cautioned that “we must observe these protocols, otherwise, high death rate and full lockdown will be inevitable, even with its attendant economic pains and poverty.
“But I noticed that without enforcement, people will not obey simple rules which are for our own good. I suggest that public transport operators be stripped of their licences if they dont comply.”
He recalled the country’s response to the first wave of the pandemic which he said was exemplary, noting that restrictions were strictly enforced.
He added that agencies were mobilised, resulting to minimum casualties, “indicating that the country has the capacity to effectively check spread and tackle COVID-19 as long as there is a will and leadership.” (NAN)