Fred Ezeh, Abuja
The National Coordinator, Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Dr Sani Aliyu, confirmed that scientific evidence have indicated that use of safety tunnels and fumigation are not effective for the prevention of COVID-19, describing it as a useless enterprise.
He said that there is no scientific basis for deployment of disinfectant tunnels in public places as a way of preventing COVID-19, insisting on already established non-pharmaceutical measures, notably the wearing of face masks, regular hand washing, the use of hand sanitizers and physical distancing.
Aliyu, who spoke at a virtual colloquium organised by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), in Abuja, on Tuesday, discouraged the installation of the tunnels and fumigations, suggesting that people should pay more attention to personal hygiene and other safety protocols.
Aliyu said: ‘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’s not as if you go into the tunnel, open your mouth, your eyes for cleansing.’
Aliyu’s submission was, however, corroborated by majority of participants, mostly head of microbiology departments of tertiary education institutions, who decried the use of fumigation in fight against COVID-19.
JAMB Registrar Prof Ishaq Oloyede, in his submission, said the colloquium became necessary following the preponderance of divergent opinions from professionals on some of the pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical measures being adopted to contain community transmission of the virus.
Oloyede was delighted over the scientific contributions at the event, expressing optimism that the decisions reached at the colloquium would go a long way in effectively tackling the spread of COVID-19.
He said: ‘The contributions and revelations have been very enormous and eye opening. Many things that were not cleared are now cleared as regards COVID-19. We should be doing things rightly and be taking all the precautions against COVID-19.’
On the contrary, the Executive Vice Chairman of National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), Muhammed Haruna, picked holes on the non-effectiveness of safety tunnels, saying such arguments are not backed by clinical evidence.
Haruna, whose agency, has continued to churn out 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 (WHO) on the non-effectiveness of the product could be reviewed in not too distant time.
On his part, 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 suggested.
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.
Participants agreed that hand-washing for atleast for 40 seconds, regular use of face masks, and other scientific-proven preventive measures would go a long way in cutting down the spread of the virus.