COVID-19: COMPULSORY USE OF FACEMASKS IS NOT ENOUGH!
Mass testing, decent facilities for isolation including sanitizers are urgently needed in Oyo state now!!
SPN charges the Oyo state leaderships of NLC, TUC and ULC to insist on mass testing of all the civil servants in the State as a condition for their resumption!
The Socialist Party of Nigeria, SPN Oyo State Chapter, notes the decision of the Engr Seyi Makinde-led government to make the wearing of face masks compulsory for all residents engaging in public or outdoor activities across the State. However, we hold that this decision, which was purportedly conceived in order to ensure an effective containment of the spread of COVID-19 in the State, will never be enough except if equal or possibly greater attention and priority is given to the provision of facilities for mass testing and decent centres for isolation and treatment across the 33 local government areas in the State.
According to the statement credited to Mr Taiwo Adisa, the chief press secretary to Governor Seyi Makinde, the decision was reached as part of the resolutions of the meeting of the Six (6) Southwest Governors convened few days ago to discuss how to curtail the spread of the COVID-19 in the region. The statement further revealed that the Engr Seyi Makinde-led State government is set to train 100 local tailors and engage them for the production of 1million facemasks as part of the effort towards the enforcement of the order which would take effect immediately. Also announced is that 27th April, 2020 is now the “tentative” new date of resumption for the civil servants in the State against the earlier date of 20th of April, 2020 which was opposed by us in SPN.
SPN welcomes the Order for the use of facemasks for all residents engaging in public outing or activities in the State but frowns at the enforcement of any law that will criminalize non-use of facemask in the public whether now or in future.
Despite the fact that we are aware that the use of facemasks is not meant, according to the WHO, for all individuals except those who are symptomatic and in health care setting, we strongly believe that this measure is necessary at this point in time in the State when there are now indications that number of cases of the virus is possibly higher than the official figure reported and the spread is now at the phase of community transmission. Besides, the fact is that the accurate number of cases of COVID-19 in the State cannot at this moment be ascertained owing to the poor state of health sector in the State and lack of adequate facilities for mass testing and decent centres for isolation and treatment across the State.
It is in the consideration of this, we hold that except when this measure of encouraging the use of facemasks is combined with the provision of free hand sanitizers to ordinary people and hand washing facilities in communities and markets as well as provision of adequate facilities for mass testing and decent centres for isolation and treatment, the use of facemasks alone can never be enough for the effective containment of the spread of COVID-19 in the State. We also hold that the use of facemasks is not yet a substitute for a definite lockdown with the provision of cash grant of N50, 000 for every household for an effective compliance which is necessary for an effective mass testing for early detection and the isolation of cases and their contacts. Just having one walk-in sample collection centre located in Adamasigba, Ibadan, is not only grossly inadequate for Ibadan let alone the entire State but also undermines and disregards the measure of social distancing as advised by the WHO and NCDC as people including potential carriers of the virus have to travel in public transports to the venue.
Again, as much as we agree that the use of facemasks is necessary, we reject the government plan to enact a law with a view to criminalize residents who default. It is our opinion that government can encourage effective compliance by adequate and sufficient provision of free facemasks for the over 6milion residents in the State, not with the use of coercive measure like law.
It is in the consideration of this we fault the decision of the Engr Seyi Makinde-led government to limit the production of free facemasks for the population of over 6million people to just 1million pieces. We advocate for the provision of adequate numbers of free facemask per resident. Given this background, the 100 local tailors the government intend to train and engage for the production of the facemask will never be enough. We hereby demand recruitment and engagement of more local tailors for the purpose of the production of the free facemasks while we equally propose that their selection should be done through their Unions and the NLC which is the umbrella of all artisan associations in the State.
Except the production of the free facemasks is combined with other measures as stated above, we of the SPN will believe that the plan for the production of the facemask is either a ploy by the pro-capitalist politicians to award to themselves public fund under the pretence of a fight against COVID-19 or to downplay the growing demand for provision of facilities for mass testing and decent isolation Centres.
This is more so that the attitude and body language of the Engr Seyi Makinde-led government suggest that it is eager to reopen the State secretariat when it is obvious that the cases of COVID-19 in the State have increased significantly compared to just a case recorded when the civil servants were asked to proceed on compulsory leave. It is in the light of this that we of the SPN reiterate our opposition to any resumption that will endanger the life of civil servants in the State while at the same time calls on the leaderships of the NLC, TUC and ULC in the State to insist on a demand for mass testing of all the civil servants in the State as a condition for their resumption.
SPN State Secretary