Coronavirus new risk: Governors forcing Nigerians to wear sub-standard face masks

April 27, 2020
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Governors of several states are now compelling citizens to wear face masks which are not treated nor have medically confirmed standards as a measure to contain the spread of coronavirus in their respective states. Indeed, several governors have threatened to arrest citizens who do not wear face mask in public places.

Ironically, the governors are compelling citizens to wear sub-standard face masks which several governments in Europe, including China, are banning, confiscating for destruction, as well as prohibiting the distribution of those sub-standard face masks – both imported and locally made.

The compulsion on the wearing of sub-standard face masks in Nigeria has not been proven to be the most efficacy approach to prevention of coronavirus infection. More so, the governors are not considering individuals who are allergic to having any object on their face or having allergy in covering of nose. The materials used for the production of the face masks by local tailors are not certified medically fit for such interventionist purpose.

China, France, Canada, and other countries have in the past two weeks been rejecting and confiscating sub-standard face masks who are now being imposed on Nigerian citizens by governors.

However, states commenced lockdown at different times without strict enforcement of movement at state borders, with the exception of the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike. States which have imposed lockdown in the past five to four weeks, for instance Lagos State, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), later Ogun, Delta and other states, left their territorial borders unofficially open for inter- state movement. The little achievements most the states make are being erased by the abuse of the movement restriction order.

Many Nigerians have stated that the more deadly Ebola was contained by the Nigerian government without lockdown. That was achieved within limited time duration. Four weeks of lockdown down the line, governments at all levels are still searching for solutions, yet, most state governments have been making announcement of coronavirus carriers recovering after weeks of isolation and treatment. This has been more frequent in Lagos, extended to Oyo State, Rivers State, Edo State and few others.

Governors should devote more energy to those medical interventions that lead to results of coronavirus patients testing negative after weeks of isolation and medical interventions. The wearing of face masks should be an issue of choice, not threat.

The United Nations (UN) has observed that interventions on coronavirus could lead to breach of human rights.

Lagos State has done well in handling coronavirus cases in the state. Yes, confirmed cases positive cases are on the rise across the country, but recoveries have also been on the rise, raising hope of human survival in juxtaposition to global assumption that coronavirus has no cure. Moreover, the resolve of Lagos State government to extend focus to research on traditional medicine as in Madagascar may add impetus to what the state government has been doing. The state government has also been expanding health facilities in the state, this is also a step that most countries have taken indecent time.

In all, the federal government should provide necessary support to state governments, particularly, Lagos State. However, the federal government should endeavour to de-politicize the interventions.

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