Healthcare Professionals in Akwa Ibom State have asked Governor Udom Emmanuel to effect a lockdown in the state to prevent the outbreak of COVID-19.

The State Healthcare Professionals comprises the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM) and the Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria (AMLSN).

In a communiqué made available to newsmen on Tuesday, March 24, after its meeting at Doctors’ Mess, Uyo on Monday 23, the bodies called on the State Government to immediately set up surveillance screening posts at all points of entry into the State.

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The meeting, which had the executive leadership of the professional associations, was chaired by the NMA Chairman, Dr Nsikak Nyoyoko; Chairman PSN, Dr Akwaowoh Akpabio; Chairman NANNM, Comrade Patrick Odu and Chairperson, AMLSN, Emilia Eliezer (AMLSN) as Co-Chairs.

They noted with “shock that while passengers travelling through the Victor Attah International Airport are being subjected to screening, no screening of any kind is being conducted at our land and sea borders with Cross River State, Rivers State, Abia State, Cameroun and Equatorial Guinea where the majority of travelers pass into Akwa Ibom State.”

“The general feeling among the Healthcare Professionals as regards the preparedness of the State to contain an eventual Coronavirus outbreak is that of dissatisfaction”, they observed.

Although the State Commissioner for Health, Dr Dominic Ukpong has repeatedly stated that the state has fully equipped Isolation centres, the Healthcare Professionals argued that an Isolation Centre for COVID-19 cannot be said to be fully equipped without ventilators.

“We call on all Corporate Organizations in the State, Philanthropists, Political Leaders, Faith-based Organizations and well-meaning individuals to immediately make financial and material donations to the State Ministry of Health’s response on COVID-19. These donations apart from cash can be in the form of the much-needed ventilators, hand sanitizers, gloves, face masks, and other PPE [Personal Protective Equipment],” the communiqué reads.

The Healthcare Professionals also suggested that all Civil Servants from level 12 and below, be directed to stay at home except for those on essential duty.

They added that all entertainment and relaxation spots, clubs, bars be closed down, noting that as an example, effective 12:00 am on March 26, the NMA will be temporarily shutting down operations at the Doctors’ Mess.

“We call on religious leaders to recognize their roles as opinion leaders and support the Government in propagating only correct messages on COVID-19.”