Wednesday 6 May 2020


Nurses under the aegis of University Graduates of Nursing Science Association (UGONSA) have saluted the World Health Organisation (WHO) and countries of the world for their efforts so far on COVID-19 and specially thanked the citizens of the world for their great sacrifices in accepting to shutter their means of livelihood and giving-up some of their fundamental human rights and usual activities of daily living (ADL) in compliance with governments stay-at-home order made to contain the spread of coronavirus, the virus that causes COVID-19.

In its nursing week message signed by its National President, Chief (Hon) S.E.O Egwuenu and Ag. National Secretary, Nurse P.O. Eteng, the association worried that despite lockdowns, number of cases is still flaring-up and gave advice on additional measures it believed will make a great difference if added to the ongoing measures adopted for the fight against the disease.

It said, “when countries started a massive shut down of their economies in February and March 2020, the hope was that within two weeks, or at most one month, the spread of the virus would be contained since the incubation period of the novel coronavirus is between 2 and 14 days.

“But a look at the more credible data coming from the US and Europe show that the rate of infection and deaths are still on the high side even as, perhaps out of lockdown fatigue and biting hardships, economies have started to be reopened.

“The U.S. for example just had its deadliest day from the virus so far on May 1, 2020 recording 2,909 deaths according to CNBC news (of May 2nd, 2020) at a time when the country just started reopening parts of its economy and easing stay-at-home order. The toll of this deadliest day of COVID-19 so far witnessed in the U.S. rivals that of September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, which claimed the lives of 2,973 people in one day, according to a government commission report cited by the CNBC news, yet nobody can for certain predict what holds for future contagions and fatalities from the virus.

“The questions that should agitate our minds are, why is the virus still spreading ferociously despite widespread lockdowns and social distancing practiced for months? If it was still spreading vigorously with strict restrictions of lockdown and social distancing what will the picture be when restrictions are lessened or removed?

“Being a professional association of nurses, the frontline healthcare workers that have the most personal round-the-clock close contact with patients, including the COVID-19 patients, we have observed that despite that nurses could not afford to maintain social distance with confirmed COVID-19 patients as they must come to a very close range of the patients to care for them,  the rate of infections among nurses is still lower than that of the general population that practiced social distancing probably due to some things which may be more potent than social distancing that is more common on the nurses' side than they are with the general population which we believe if made universally abundant to the general population might make them be more elusive to the virus as the nurses.

“As the pandemic panned out, some world-power countries which many other countries were looking-up to for strategies and guidelines such as the US, France, and Britain focused more attention on producing and stock-piling ventilators to the extent that the U.S. for example, invoked its Defense Production Act to force automobile companies to start producing ventilators.  This action subtly made some countries that were looking up to the U.S. for strategies to adopt in the fight against COVID-19 to assume that having ventilators was the ultimate solution to the problem hence the frenzy with which many countries were falling over each other to get hold of ventilators as if ventilator was the COVID-19 messiah.

“As enormous energy was focused on producing and acquiring ventilators, groceries and markets were allowed to run severely dry of basic hygiene items such as disinfectant wipes, toiletries and alcohol-based hand sanitizers and no Defense Production Act was invoked to produce them in an abundant quantity to balance the need for their increased usage orchestrated by COVID-19.

“As stimulus packages were legislated upon, nobody deemed it fit to legislate on making it compulsory for basic hygiene items to be available to all the people all the time while the COVID-19 crisis lasts. 

 “While so much campaign was made in preaching the practice of basic hygiene especially hand hygiene, the capacity for people to effectively do so was not concomitantly enhanced thereby allowing severe scarcity of basic hygiene items to create a weak link in the chain of preventive measures that the virus maneuvered through to continue to spread.

 “When contrasted with the situation for nurses who, despite very close round-the-clock personal contacts with the victims of COVID-19, still have a lower rate of infection and deaths compared to the general population it becomes quite understandable that the meticulous hygiene practices made by nurses while donning face masks and other PPEs such as regularly wiping surfaces with disinfectant wipes, and regular hand hygiene practice of combining hand washing with alcohol-based hand rub (ABHR), in a nutshell, makes a great difference.

“The point we are trying to highlight is that it is not enough to just preach to people to practice meticulous hand hygiene without leveraging them the ability to effectively do so vis-à-vis adequate provision of basic hygiene items such as disinfectant wipes, toiletries, ABHR, and so on.

“The battle we are currently waging against COVID-19 cannot be won by bullets or by ventilators but by effective hygiene practices which should be done with basic hygiene items complimenting regular hand washing with soap and water. Therefore the bulletproof everybody should be universally provided with at this auspicious moment is disinfectant wipes, toiletries, alcohol-based sanitizers and any other thing needed for effective hand hygiene to efficiently complement hand washing with soap and water.

“Now is, therefore, time for countries to invoke their Defense Production Acts or whichever means possible for mass production and free mandatory distribution of disinfectant wipes, toiletries, alcohol-based hand sanitizers, and masks (regular masks or those made from clothing materials) to the general public and as well make the use of facemask in the public compulsory with punitive actions against defaulters.

“The WHO, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC (US)] and the CDCs of other countries should as a matter of urgent importance recommend these measures as mandatory for speedy implementation across the globe – the statement concluded.

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