The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) doctors’ union had decided to go on a strike from Wednesday evening due to police harassment of health workers trying to move through the city to treat patients during the coronavirus curfew, reported Reuters.
The Nigerian doctors’ union said it had become unsafe for its members to continue to provide healthcare under the present confused arrangement. It cited an example of an incident when an ambulance carrying a patient was prevented from moving to a destination while the attending health workers were harassed and temporarily detained.
The Nigerian government eased the lockdown in Lagos early this month, but imposed an overnight curfew nationwide. Essential workers were given the right to move at all times, but the doctors say this has not been properly implemented.
The union said all doctors under NMA auspices in Lagos should “proceed on a sit-at-home starting from 6pm today”, which would continue until rules on movement restrictions were clarified.
The NMA leaders said that they have taken the decision due to the conflicting directives by the state government and law enforcement agents on the status of essential workers, including doctors and other health workers
On the other hand, Frank Mba, Nigeria Police Force spokesman, said there were no conflicting directives. He cited a statement released by the police force that stated that all essential workers including medical personnel, firefighters, ambulance services, journalists, etc, have been exempted from the restriction of movement associated with both the partial lockdown and the national curfew across the federation. He said all police commissioners in the country had been told to enforce the exemptions.
Nigeria has so far reported more than 6,000 confirmed cases of the virus and 192 deaths. Most of the cases have been in Lagos, sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest city with some 20 million inhabitants.