LAGOS (Reuters) - Doctors in Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos will go on strike from Wednesday evening because of what they describe as police harassment of health workers trying to move through the city to treat patients during a coronavirus curfew.
The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) doctors’ union said it had become unsafe for its members to “continue to provide healthcare under the present confused arrangement”.
It cited an example in which it said an ambulance carrying a patient was “prevented from moving to a destination while the attending healthworkers were harassed and temporarily detained”.
Nigeria has had 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.
A lockdown in Lagos lasting just over a month was eased on May 4, but an overnight curfew was put in place nationwide. Essential workers were given the right to move at all times, but the doctors say this has not been properly implemented.
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 union said.
Frank Mba, Nigeria Police Force spokesman, said there were no conflicting directives.
He cited a statement by the force late on Tuesday that stated: “All essential workers including medical personnel, firefighters, ambulance services, journalists, etc, are 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.
Reporting by Alexis Akwagyiram; Additional reporting by Camillus Eboh in Abuja and Angela Ukomadu in Lagos; Editing by Peter Graff and Giles Elgood