President of the Academy of Medicine Specialties of Nigeria (AMSN), Prof. Oladapo Ashiru, yesterday canvassed an immediate shutdown of international airports in Nigeria for at least two weeks, to allow for a proper assessment of the COVID-19 strain that is reported to be ravaging India.
Ashiru expressed the fear that the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic may soon be upon the country if precautionary measures are not taken, even though for now, transmission generally remains low in the country compared to other climes.
Ashiru, while fielding questions on ARISE NEWS Channel, THISDAY’s broadcast arm, said the virus was fast mutating and had multiplied into variants, that must be quickly checked.
He stated that India, like Nigeria, has almost the same climatic conditions and had the same infection pattern with Nigeria, until recently when the level of infections rose to a daily rate of over 350,000 daily.
According to him, Nigeria does not have the capacity to cope if the India strain comes into the country through the airports that service Nigeria from India, since there are no direct flights from the country.
“There’s no direct flight from India, so flights are coming in from Ethiopia and other places. We need to watch our airports and we need to temporarily halt operations not for more than two weeks just to assess what’s going on,” he said.
He called for firmness in the handling of the pandemic, adding that government needs to follow science in tackling the virus.
He stated that Canada for instance has banned flights from India, adding that the new strain of the virus is highly transmissible and therefore Nigeria should not lose guard.
Ashiru asked Nigeria to do away with the Very Important Persons (VIP) syndrome if it must win the war against the virus, and expressed concern that Nigerians now go around like COVID-19 no longer exists.
He said the situation had become more critical because Nigeria was not buying vaccines, but waiting for free jabs, unlike other countries actively purchasing and stocking vaccines. He stated that beyond media appearances, members of the group are also on the presidential task force and therefore consulting with the government.
He also called on the federal government to be proactive in dealing with the pandemic.
Ashiru expressed wonder that Nigerians have started partying and behaving like the virus has been defeated by breaking all the COVID-19 protocols like social distancing and washing of hands.