Stakeholders differ on use of safety tunnels, fumigation in fight against COVID-19


By Funmilayo Adeyemi
Abuja, Aug. 11, 2020 Stakeholders in the fight against Coronavirus (COVID-19) on Tuesday expressed different views on the effectiveness of the use of safety tunnels and fumigation in prevention of the pandemic.
They gave their submissions at a virtual colloquium organised by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) in collaboration with the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) and Premium Times in Abuja.
Some of the participants said the effectiveness of the safety tunnel had not been clinically proven while others said common sanitation was all that needed to curb the spread of COVID-19.
The Coordinator of Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Aliyu Sani, submitted that there was no scientific basis for deployment of disinfectant tunnels in public places as a way of preventing COVID-19.
“There is no absolute evidence that this disinfection tunnel is effective, that is why at the national level we have taken it out.
“This disinfection could be less effective than washing hands. It is not like as you go into the tunnel, it will tell you to open your mouth, your eyes,” he added.
Sani’s whose submission, was also corroborated by majority of other participants-mostly head of Microbiology departments of tertiary education institutions decried the use of fumigation in fight against COVID-19.
“COVID-19 is not a rat neither is it an insect that you fumigate. All that is needed is to wear a mask and keep your environment clean.
“All these fumigation all over the places makes you feel good but common sanitation is what you need to prevent other diseases, not even COVID,” he said.
However, the Executive Vice Chairman of National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), Muhammed Haruna, said the arguments on the non-effectiveness of safety tunnels were not backed by clinical evidence.
Haruna, whose agency is producing disinfectant tunnels, said countries like China, India, among others, adopted tunnels to cut down on the spread of the virus and argued that the advisory by the World Health Organisation on the non-effectiveness of the product could be reviewed in not too distant time.
Also, the representative of the Nigerian Academy of Science, Prof. Sunday Bwala, warned against the commercialisation and politicisation of the pandemic.
“Many are seeing it as a way of business. We are dealing with a virus and the best way is to attack it. We should embark on the scientific preventive ways,” he said.
Also speaking, the President of Nigerian Academy of Letters, Prof. Francis Egbokharu, called for clear-cut preventive measures that are easily understandable by people as against the confusion that trailed some of the guidelines.
The stakeholders, however, called for at least 40 seconds of hand washing, regular use of face mask, and other scientific-proven preventive measures.
They said this would go a long way in cutting down the spread of the virus.
Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, JAMB Registar, said the event was necessary following the preponderance of divergent opinions from professionals on some of the pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical measures being adopted by relevant authorities to curb the spread of the virus.
Oloyede said he was delighted with the scientific contributions at the event, adding that the decision reached would go a long way in effectively tackling the spread of COVID-19.
“The contributions have been very enormous; many things that were not cleared are now cleared. We believe the over 300 participants who are here will tell others who are not here.
“We should be doing things rightly and be taking all the precautions against COVID-19.
”What brought JAMB into this was that we wanted to do the boots (safety tunnels) for all of our states branches and it cost a lot of money.
“And when there were doubts, we needed to bring people together. We didn’t want to do something wrong,” he said.

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