COVID-19: Panel seeks tougher enforcement as new cases rise in Enugu

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    Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi

    THE Enugu State Government has been advised to initiate tougher regime to enforce compliance with COVID-19 hygienic protocols and help check the spread of the coronavirus in the state.

    The chairman of the State Ad hoc Expert Medical Advisory Committee (EMAC) on the de-escalation of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) transmission, Prof Emmanuel Ejim, made the call on Monday at a press briefing.

    The State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi recently constituted the 12-man committee, to within two-weeks recommend effective measures for halting the spread of coronavirus infection in Enugu, and ensure compliance with all hygienic protocols.

    Ejim, at the press briefing, harped on the need for the enforcement of “compulsory wearing of face masks, observing of physical distancing and ensuring hand hygiene.”

    Ejim noted that in the course of their engagements with various groups, many people acknowledged the existence of COVID-19 but were concerned that there was a lack of commitment and capacity to enforce the preventive measures.

    He admitted that the committee was still trying to unravel the factors undermining the enforcement of the preventive measures.

    According to him the committee will recommend, “for the government to broaden and deepen the enforcement of the use of face masks amongst citizenry and penalize defaulters so as to drive home the importance of these key preventive measures.”

    The chairman suggested that the government should involve the services of neighborhood watch groups and forest guards to enforce COVID-19 prevention advisories in the rural areas “where it seems very little has changed despite the escalation of the outbreak.”

    While seeking a collaboration between the media and government,  Prof. Ejim stressed that “we have evidence from stakeholders across the markets, transport sector, healthcare system, religious bodies and the security operatives to call on government to strongly consider putting in place stricter enforcement measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the state.

     “Tops among the measures is the use of breathable (cloth) face masks by all as this remains the main evidence-based intervention that demonstrably reduces the transmission of COVID-19; particularly when combined with strict social distancing and restriction of crowding.

    “Relatedly, this explains why public gatherings for worship and celebrations need to be curtailed in scale, number of attendees, frequency of occurrence and length of time.”

    He stresses that a reduction in these variables will limit the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, while he warns that elaborate burial ceremonies of probable COVID-19 cases who were not tested, puts the public at risk and should be reconsidered.

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