The Association of Hospital and Administrative Pharmacists of Nigeria has called on Nigerians to take precautionary measures, including the wearing of face masks in public, as the Federal Government relaxes the total lockdown of Lagos, Ogun states and the Federal Capital Territory.

It noted that the one-month lockdown of Lagos, Ogun and the FCT as well as in other states went a long way in curtailing the spread of the deadly coronavirus in the country.

The pharmacists urged Nigerians to go for cloth face masks instead of the surgical face mask, so as not to worsen the shortage of surgical face masks.

The association, in a statement by its National Chairman, Dr Kingsley Amibor, and National Secretary, Dr Hafiz Akande, also expressed worry over the rising number of health workers who had contracted the viral disease and called on the government to ensure that health workers were supplied with appropriate Personal Protective Equipment.

It added, “We call upon the government to, as a matter of urgency, approve importation of active pharmaceutical ingredients necessary for the manufacture of hand sanitisers into the country by pharmacists in hospitals and pharmaceutical industry.

“These industries have the capacity to produce face masks here in Nigeria if the ingredients for manufacture are made locally available.”

“The cost of surgical face masks is currently too exorbitant and government will need to intervene to subsidise the cost of importation while encouraging plans for local manufacturing.”

The association also called for increased testing.

It said, “We are of the opinion that there is a need to step up community testing of the population with a view to ascertaining the actual number of carriers of the virus and isolate such before more damage is done to the population.

“The current method of testing, using conventional procedure has served well, but with onset of community transmission, mass testing using rapid diagnostic test kits has become inevitable. We implore the government to borrow the American model where the government recently gave approval for community pharmacists to serve as testing centres for the populace to ensure that most people in the population are screened for the disease.

“Nigeria boasts community pharmacies in every state of the federation and co-opting them into COVID-19 testing programme will serve to reach the bulk of the population within a very short time.”

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