Nigeria: Doctors Go on Strike over Insufficient Coronavirus Protection

People walk along a main road wearing face masks at Yaba in Lagos, on February 28, 2020. - Residents of Nigeria's economic hub Lagos scrambled for hygiene products after the chaotic megacity of 20 million announced the first confirmed case of new coronavirus in sub-Saharan Africa. Health Minister Osagie Ehanire …
PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP via Getty Images

Medical doctors in Nigeria began a strike on Monday over a lackluster welfare package that included an “inadequate response” from the government to the increased health risks posed by the country’s worsening Chinese coronavirus outbreak, the nation’s Daily Trust reported.

Yesterday, the Association of Resident Doctors (ARD) at the Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital in southwestern Nigeria’s Ogun State announced the start of a three-day warning strike effective from Monday over the deficient welfare package. ARD said the strike action followed the alleged refusal of the state government to respond to concerns over the need for an improved welfare package for its members.

“There has been no commitment whatsoever from the government on the issue of appropriate remuneration, entry-level, new minimum wage, hazard allowance, and life insurance for our members,” the association said in a letter to the state governor.

“Despite the inadequate response of Ogun State government to the health risks confronted by our members during this COVID-19 [Chinese coronavirus] pandemic, our members went ahead to continue their work diligently in their various departments and at the isolation center,” the letter said.

“We were taken aback by the arbitrary change in only hazard allowance to be given as COVID-19 [Chinese coronavirus] Special Hazard Allowance to all health workers,” ARD added.

The association condemned the increase in hazard allowance from N5,000 [$12.82] to N10,000 [$25.64] as “a mere charade.”

As Africa’s top oil producer, Nigeria’s economy has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, which has decreased global oil demand. And as Africa’s most populous nation, Nigeria faces a potentially devastating coronavirus outbreak, which has been quietly intensifying in recent weeks.

On May 1, in northwestern Nigeria’s Kano state, the number of new coronavirus cases nearly tripled over a few days, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported last Friday.

The Nigeria Center for Disease Control said the number of recorded infections across Kano rose to 219 on May 1, up from 77 at the start of last week.

This report followed shortly after news that over 150 people died in Kano from a “strange ailment” over a two-day period from April 17-18. Nigerian authorities failed to confirm whether this mystery illness was the Chinese coronavirus, but the report fueled speculation that the number of coronavirus cases and deaths in Kano and in Nigeria far exceed the numbers released by the government. Nigeria has reported just 87 coronavirus deaths for the entire country, in addition to 2,558 infections.

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