The Health Writers’ Association of Nigeria (HEWAN) has urged the Federal Government to ban flights from Britain and other countries currently experiencing the spread of the new COVID-19 variant.
The association made the call in a statement jointly signed by Chioma Obinna and Lucy Osuizigbo-Okechukwu, its President and Secretary respectively, on Wednesday in Lagos.
The journalists’ group appealed to the government not to wait any further before taking necessary steps to keep the new variant of COVID-19 away from Nigeria.
“HEWAN observes, with great concern, the resurgence of what experts say is the emergence of a new variant of the pandemic coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) in some countries.
“There is a need for the Nigerian health authorities to put measures in place to prevent it from entering the country.
“As at today, the new variant is reportedly spreading rapidly in Britain.
“The World Health Organisation (WHO) has confirmed nine instances of the same variant in Denmark, Australia, Italy and the Netherlands.
“Several other countries, including South Africa, have also confirmed the emergence of variants, similar to the one now ravaging Britain.
“Scientists say the new variant is 70 per cent more transmissible than the previously dominant strain, though there’s no evidence yet that it could be more fatal.
“There is, however, fear that it will spread swiftly to other countries,’’ it said.
HEWAN noted that expectedly, countries around the world were reacting swiftly to the development, so as to prevent or curtail the spread of the new variant.
It said that presently, over 40 countries had banned flights from Britain, while neighbouring France had temporarily shut its borders.
The association charged health authorities in Nigeria not to be silent about the new development.
“The nation is already experiencing an influx of travellers, as expected in this festive period, from different countries, including those now being ravaged by the new strain of COVID-19.
“It is, therefore, imperative that the country acts fast, as the world confronts another wave of the pandemic.
“The increasing daily number of COVID-19 infections detected in the country in the past two weeks revealed that a second wave of the outbreak has begun.
“We appealed to the government to ensure funds are dedicated for research institutes, such as the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) and others, to develop a home-grown vaccine that could tackle the virus,’’ it said.
HEWAN expressed the belief that Nigeria had the capacity to develop a vaccine for coronavirus.