#EndSARS: Hoodlums stole COVID-19 equipment, says WHO

The World Health Organisation says hoodlums, who took advantage of the #EndSARS protests, looted one of its offices in Nigeria, making away with Personal Protective Equipment and other items used in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

The African Regional Director of WHO, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, said this while responding to a question, during a webinar on Thursday.

Responding to a question on what effects the protests, riots and looting in the last couple of weeks would have on the fight against COVID-19 in Nigeria, Moeti said mass gatherings remained a breeding ground for COVID-19

She said, “I think it is always a concern when you have mass gatherings under conditions where people are not taking the precautions and certainly under these conditions where people are rioting, demonstrating and looting, clearly, people are not taking precautions and the risks are there.

“As I said, we were concerned not just by the situation in Nigeria which is very sad by the way and we know that in the process, the WHO office in one part of Nigeria was actually looted and so were some stores of the Personal Protective Equipment, it is a very sad situation.”

On whether Nigerians should expect an increase in infections, Moeti said, “It is a concern and we will wish to see the situation easing as far as possible and I think it means there is a need to be really sure that the public health interventions are there to respond” to any eventualities.

“It is similar to the situation in Guinea as I said where there were mass demonstrations and violence in very unsafe situations,” the WHO official added.

The WHO regional director said Africa had witnessed a decline in the rate of infections since July which led to many countries relaxing lockdowns. She, however, said in the last couple of weeks, the rate of decrease of infections had slowed down.

Moeti added, “We have seen a kind of flattening of the curve. It is no longer going down. It has plateaued.

“We have seen that in a number of countries and this is linked to two things which are the opening up of the lockdowns, people starting to move around more, starting to gather more and worldwide, people are getting exhausted with the measures at a personal level, with the consistent wearing of masks, with making the effort to keep a distance with your neighbour wherever you are.”

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