It is very Wrong for Schools to Reopen Today - NMA, NARD

The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and the National Association Resident Doctors (NARD) have criticized the decision of some states in the country to reopen schools for academic activities today, January 4th.
The leadership of both associations in separate interviews on Sunday said the reopening of the schools amid a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic will put the lives of pupils and their teachers at risk.

This is as NARD President Dr. Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi submitted that Government has shown no direction in the fight againts the virus and that it presently has no plans for those who come down with the virus.

Pupils are resuming in some states on today despite the caution by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 Control that schools should remain shut to contain the Corovnavirus spike.

Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, who is also PTF chairman on December 21, 2020, advised states to use January 18 as the tentative resumption date after many states hurriedly closed their schools following the spike in COVID-19 infections.

However, schools in Rivers, Sokoto and Akwa Ibom and are reopening today.

But on Sunday, NMA Secretary-General Dr. Ekpe Philips described as erroneous the belief that youths have immunity to withstand the virus while the association President Prof. Innocent Ujah, cautioned against reopening schools now because of the second wave of the pandemic.

Philips said: “Granted that the younger population have a better immunity than the older population, but they should not take it for granted because there are still some children who have co-mobilities and their lives are important. There are children with hypertension, diabetes, who COVID-19 can take down.
“Also remember that the students do not just stay in schools on their own; they have teachers and workers who may also be exposed. So, it is important to exercise caution even in the reopening of schools.

“It is very wrong for schools to reopen tomorrow (today) and remember that most people have gone on Christmas and New Year holiday without keeping to the NCDC protocol. I am not saying that is what is going to happen, but there is that scare that there could be a sudden surge in transmission and infection associated with COVID-19.

“I also understand one fact that Nigerians have not kept to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) protocol. Also, you ask yourself – what difference has it really made if people are doing crossover sitting down without face masks and without social distancing? As far as I am concerned it is a sin that the government put a rule and people break it on religious grounds.”

NARD President Dr. Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi said: “I strongly believe that schools should not be reopening on Monday. The fact that states are now releasing children to resume school is my cry because we don’t know the directions that Nigerians are going. We are exposing our children, our families and everybody into where there is no direction.

"We need to ask the government about their plans for people infected with COVID-19 and ask them where do we go from here?

“The Presidential Task Force on covid-19 (PTF) and the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) have a lot of questions to answer. They need to give answers on what their plans are for Nigerians on how to keep us and our families safe.

“We are in the middle of a second wave and isolation centres are not there again. For example in Lagos, where are the isolation centres? Where do you take your loved ones to, and who answers for us as Nigerians on where to get basic treatment from? As we speak now, my younger brother, my mother and I have been exposed, and we do not know where to go?

“Months earlier we know that Lagos State Government had isolation centres in several locations. Now, most isolation centres have been closed down. For example, in Gbagada, there is an isolation centre there but we know it is not functional now.

“The ones in Lekki are not functional again. So, which isolation centres are functional in Lagos, Abuja, Enugu etc. They have all thrown caution into the air, and we are talking of vaccines of N400 billion which we don’t know where Nigeria is going to get it from. I cry for Nigerians, myself, and my family – I cry generally for everybody involved. NARD cries for Nigerians because we don’t know where we are going.

“The health sector is more in confusion state because we do not know where we are going.

“If, as Nigerians, we do not know where our parents, families, and those infected are going to go, how do we survive the state we are in?”