An infectious diseases physician, Dr Iorhen Akase, has appealed to federal and state governments to review their COVID-19 response guidelines to suit the current infection figures.
Akase, Head of Infectious Diseases Unit, Department of Medicine, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, made the plea in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Wednesday in Lagos.
He said that as COVID-19 infection declines globally, including in Nigeria, the response guidelines should be reviewed based on data and not sentiment or because other countries are doing it.
According to him, the western approach will not work in Africa, noting that as the pandemic winds down, a tailor-made approach and strategy should be developed.
“Going forward, we should decide on our approaches based on our local experience,” he said.
Akase said that the review should cut across travel protocol, testing, vaccination data, use of face masks, whether to implement a vaccination mandate and whether to shut down isolation centres, among others.
“Should people still be doing PCR tests when they come into the country or are we okay with just rapid testing?
“Should we still be testing people who are fully vaccinated or not? Should we be testing people who were previously infected with COVID-19? Should we be testing children?
“Should we be pushing for more booster doses? Elsewhere, they are talking about second and third booster doses. Should that be our position too?
“In which group of people are we seeing more vulnerability within the country? How are the elderly behaving?
“People living with HIV/AIDS, how are they behaving? How are pregnant women behaving? Should we be vaccinating children less than 12 years old?
“There are lots of questions to be answered and these should be done based on data,” he said.
The infectious diseases physician said the country should come up with answers that apply to it specifically, noting that the pandemic played out differently in different parts of the world.
Akase noted that COVID-19 would evolve to an endemic disease with different strains causing infection spikes at times.
He, however, said that people would adjust to living with the virus.
“It is a natural pathway of epidemic response, stressing that people need to move on with their lives,” he said.
Also, Prof. Tanimola Akande, a public health pphysician, also called for a review of the COVID-19 response guidelines, however, said ‘caution’ should be applied.
Akande noted that most countries that relaxed their COVID-19 guidelines had achieved about 70 to 80 per cent vaccination of their population.
He stressed the need for the country to intensify vaccination of eligible citizens to achieve its target of herd immunity.