COVID-19: Sensitisation key in containing community transmission – Omokaro

Emem Omokaro

Emem Omokaro, the Executive Director, Dave Omokaro Foundation, has urged the Federal Government to bridge the gap through community sensitisation to curb increasing reports of confirmed cases and deaths of Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Omokaro made the call in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Wednesday.

She observed that the increased rate of the virus long after the closure of international and inter-state borders revealed the glaring gaps in the containment and mitigation strategies for COVID-19.

She noted that the rise in cases required government planners,  community organisers and all concerned to engage in aggressive campaigns in communities as it was done during electioneering by politicians.

According to the executive director, the increasing number of cases is proof of the intensity of Coronavirus activity, when most people are still in doubt of the reality.

Omokaro said that public enlightenment must be conducted from door to door, ward to ward within local governments, senatorial districts to inform and educate the people about the virus.

She however stated that the intention should be to win citizens trust and then the community’s compliance with experts advice and government directives to contain the disease.

She added that infections were now showing up as sustained community transmission not just as occurence, where hitherto,  isolated cases were limited to import by infected travellers and transmission to their contacts.

“Now, we see no new travels, yet there is increasing incidence of infections, across the country.

“Halting community transmission of the virus, through testing, isolation and contact tracing, is the mechanism for reducing infections and keeping to the minimum, the need for hospitalisation and therefore reducing the pressure on the health system.

“Halting community transmission is to large extent, immobilising the virus.

“It has been confirmed that imposing  restrictions without people understanding why, will be perceived as punitive and as  infringement of freedoms where restrictions are imposed without proper strategies for the immediate meeting of the need for support services and proportional palliatives.

“There is a likelihood for a push back, where for instance, governments on subnational levels disrupt society by closing  markets and far ahead of distributing critically needed provisions to support the community,

“The need for self preservation by staying indoors during the lockdown may fail to win the argument against the need for self preservation through guarantee of food security.

“Community transmissions have been festered where governments  have delayed the setting up of infrastructure for testing, isolation, contact tracing and lockdown.

“Some state governments are seen to have eased the lockdown for commercial and religious purposes and, have given permission in a few instances, to allow convergence of large crowds

“Large crowds have also been noticed, when distributing food items in most cases, without monitoring to ensure, the crowd observe social distancing.

“Mass gatherings magnify the spread of infectious diseases within  communities. It is a silent transmission,” she noted.

Omokaro said that the National Primary Health Care Development Agency working in collaboration with National Orientation Agency was key in the promotion of public health measures in all local languages especially in the city slums and rural areas.

She further said that stopping community transmission would  ensure that community based actions became more extensive and aggressive.

“States and local governments should be seen to utilise every social,  political, traditional and religious leadership organ on multilevel and across all sectors to mobilise, sensitise people.

“And unify the call to members of the community to collectively take action to contain and mitigate the virus.

“This is critical, especially given that cultural values, living circumstances, spiritual inclinations and multi- dimensional poverty, may contradict and disrupt compliance.

“States are signing executive orders for the compulsory use of masks  in public places, the intention is to contain transmission of  infections.

“Some countries where the use of masks have been found effective  in reducing the spread of Coronavirus, are known to have deployed national strategies to promote, educate and in some cases ensure the supply of the proper masks to its citizens.

“The rate of literacy and engagement of the citizens in such countries have been confirmed to be among the determinants of the safety  dividend.

“Information on the types of masks, the proper treatment of the mask when worn; keeping ones’ hands from adjusting the mask and probably picking up infections, should be the content of public enlightenment discourse.

“And the hygiene of taking off and disposing of the masks and the hygiene of maintenance where the mask in use, is not disposable is also imperative.

“Public enlightenment is required to inform about the  protocol of physical and social distancing, hand washing and respiratory hygiene to be combined with the facial masks and environmental cleaning.

“Persons living in remote and isolated communities should also be reached.

“This is the time to sensitise and educate every community in order to enhance understanding of the use of the facial mask in all local languages.

“Otherwise, the wrong use of the  masks may be a source of community transmission.

“It is unfortunate that older persons and others with underlying  medical conditions, as we are also beginning to see in our society, shall bear the brunt of delayed or failed measures,” Omokaro said. (NAN)

– Apr. 22, 2020 @ 18:05 GMT |

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