The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) on Thursday opposed the advice by the government that persons arriving Nigeria from countries with numerous cases of coronavirus should self-isolate themselves as a precautionary measure.
The labour union said the current practice that allows visitors from countries with recorded cases of COVID 19 to self-isolate because they have not developed symptoms of the virus at their points of entry is counter-productive.
The president of NLC, Ayuba Wabba, said this during a press conference titled ‘COVID 19: The way Forward’ in Abuja on Thursday.
He said persons arriving in Nigeria from countries with up to 1000 Covid-19 cases should be quarantined in suitable healthcare facilities by the government to avoid the spread.
“Persons arriving in Nigeria from countries with up to 1000 Covid-19 cases should be quarantine in suitable healthcare facilities,” he said. “The advice to self-quarantine is counter-productive given the socio-economic realities in Nigeria.”
“Contact tracing of positive cases should be stepped up. Health givers should be resourced with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), face masks, gloves, and hand sanitisers. Finally, timely dissemination of relevant information is critical in the war against Covid-19,” he said.
He also said the government at all levels need to strengthen their emergency response mechanism.
Mr Wabba said a worker-based strategy is necessary given that workers are at frontline risk given their exposure at points of entry or departure, hospitals or any other place of interest.
“In the face of Covid-19, workers are also exposed to secondary risks such as threats of loss of jobs or actual job losses,” he said. “In furtherance of this, Congress has decided to issue this as an advisory to workers, governments and private employers of labour, both formal and informal, across the country.
“The advisory focuses on creating awareness of the workplace issues on Covid-19, fashioning a support base, designing negotiation strategy that safeguards workers, as well as ensuring that our workplaces are healthy and safe,” he said.
He said given the impact of Covid-19 on the global economy, especially with the fall in the price of crude oil, Nigeria is likely to be affected in the short to medium run.
He advised business not to panic and take adversarial measures against workers, “although the government is under pressure, it should put in place policies to mitigate business and social impact.”
“On our part, we are ready to work with employers and governments to ensure that workers get the needed support, and employers a fair deal in these trying times,” he added. “We should see the Covid-19 pandemic as a challenge to revamp and reposition our healthcare facilities and system.”
He said “the congress adapts and recommends the hygiene measures by WHO, and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).”
“We encourage workers to wash their hands frequently with soap under a running water source for at least twenty seconds. We should also desist from putting our fingers in our nostrils or wiping our eyes or mouths with bare hands.
“Workers should maintain a reasonable person to person distancing at work. For now, we should avoid handshakes or hug. Upon discovering any of the Covid-19 symptoms, we are advised to report to the closest clinic. It should, however, be noted that a confirmed case is not a death sentence given the recovery record in the country,” he said.
He said employers “are duty-bound to provide facilities for dispensing running water as well as hand sanitisers at workplaces within the reach of workers”.
Coronavirus has been recorded in about 140 countries in the world and more than 200, 000 persons have been infected across the globe with thousands dead.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) on March 11, 2020, declared Covid-19 a pandemic and since then, the spread has worsened and more deaths have occurred.
The advent of the disease has also led to countries locking in millions of their citizens, closing social spaces, locking down entire regions and shutting their doors against travellers from other countries.
Currently, Nigeria has the total number of 12 cases in Nigeria, although authorities say one of the victims has fully recovered.