CORONAVIRUS COVID-19 PANDEMIC:THE PERSPECTIVE OF THE CHATTERED INSTITUTE OF FORENSIC AND INVESTIGATIVE PROFESSIONALS OF NIGERIA (CIFIPN) IN CURBING ITS IMPACT IN NIGERIA DATED 15TH APRIL, 2020
It is no longer news that the world is today experiencing one of its sore shares of an unprecedented plague ravaging the face of the earth code-named CoVid-19, Nigeria is no exception to this global emergency.
Chattered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria (CIFIPN)
While commending the efforts of the Federal Government, relevant Government agencies, professionals in the health sector as well as the organized private sector and good-spirited individuals in the fight against this scourge, wishes to lend its support and to join hands with all concerned to defeat the scourge.
Indeed, the outbreak of the Covid-19 has presented the world and Nigeria in particular with another phase of a challenge as well as the opportunity to demonstrate not only our resilience as a people but also, our will-power to emerge victoriously and surmount any challenge that presents itself in our national journey.
Importantly, Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria wises to draw a parallel between the corona virus pandemic with the endemic fraud and corruption in our country, which is that, as at today there is no cure for COVID-19, the remedy lies in early detection and application of preventive measures. It is in line with this parallel that CIFIPN wishes to once again urge the Nigerian nation to embrace preventive and early detection of pervasive corruption which CIFIPN stands for, especially in the face of judicious and effective use of available resources running into billions from grants and donations in the fight against COVID-19.
The global approach to dealing with the crisis so far revolves around containment through strict adherence to hygienic and sanitary measures prescribed by health professionals. Even as research and investigations using forensic methodologies have revealed greater severity and the resilience of the deadly virus.
FORENSIC PATHOLOGISTS AND COVID-19 (DR JUDY MELINIK)
According to Dr. Judy Melinik, a forensic pathologist with Alameda County Sheriff-Coroner, Oakland, California, “the COVID-19 is more resilient in that it sticks around the dead body that is, it lives on in blood after death”, however, in-road has been made in terms of developing a cure or vaccine for the virus.
Dr. Judy Melinek, a forensic pathologist in the San Francisco Bay Area has performed autopsies under many different circumstances. The current COVID-19 pandemic, however, poses new challenges in terms of protecting herself and her colleagues and limiting the spread of the deadly virus.
“We are used to dealing with contagious pathogens like tuberculosis, hepatitis, and HIV. COVID-19 is different only in that there is currently no treatment… and it is more resilient in that it sticks around the dead body after death.’’
According to her, Autopsy is of great significance to the elucidation of the pathological changes, pathogenesis and cause of death of coronavirus disease 2019 （COVID-19）and can provide a theoretical basis for more scientific and accurate prevention and control of the outbreak. Based on related laws and regulations, such as Law of the People’s Republic of China on Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases, the clinical manifestations and epidemiological characteristics of COVID-19, and the related guidelines on the prevention and control of the outbreak, combined with the practical work of forensic pathology examination, the Guide to the Forensic Pathology Practice on Death Cases Related to Corona Virus Disease 2019 （COVID-19） （Trial Draft） has been developed. This guide includes information on the background investigation of the cases, autopsy room requirements, personal prevention, and protections, external examinations, autopsy, auxiliary examinations, and so on. This guide can be used as a reference by forensic and pathological examination institutions, as well as examination staff.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A CORONAVIRUS AND A FLU VIRUS
Coronaviruses and flu viruses might cause similar symptoms but genetically they are very different. Coronaviruses begin in animals so humans have no natural immunity.
“Flu viruses incubate very rapidly – you tend to get symptoms two to three days after being infected, but coronaviruses take much longer,” says Professor Neil Ferguson, a disease outbreak scientist at Imperial College London. Coronaviruses don’t evolve in the same way as flu, with lots of different strains, but equally our body doesn’t generate very good immunity.”
CYBERCRIME IN HEALTH CARE AND FRAUD:
Another issue of concern is the emergence of cybercrime in health care and the possibility of disaster fraud. It is obvious that cybercriminals are constantly scouting for loopholes in systems and vulnerable persons to defraud. The COVID-19 pandemic provides such ample opportunity for fraudsters as most businesses and economic activities and even public sector entities now have to rely on digital platforms to continue operations, noting that majority of these players have not mastered the use of e-systems and digital platforms in their operations.
This situation increases their vulnerability to cybercrime, a development that can result in an economic catastrophe of unimaginable magnitude.
From the foregoing, it is therefore expedient that we deploy the services of forensic professionals ranging from forensic pathologists and toxicologists to cybercrime specialists to put in place preventive measures and also, detect and investigate already existing cases. To this end, therefore, Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria (CIFIPN) wishes to assure the Nigeria public that its members have determined to avail themselves to be of service to Nigerias when there is a need in future, once the Bill to establish Chartered Institute of Forensic Investigative Professionals of Nigeria (CIFIPN) is assented to.
BASIC PROTECTIVE MEASURES AGAINST CORONAVIRUS ACCORDING TO THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION (WHO)
Stay aware of the latest information on the COVID-19 outbreak, available on the WHO website and through your national and local public health authority. Most people who become infected experience mild illness and recover, but it can be more severe for others. Take care of your health and protect others by doing the following:
1. Wash your hands frequently
Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.
2. Maintain social distancing
Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
Why? When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain the virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.
3. Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
Why? Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose, or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.
4. Practice respiratory hygiene
Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
Why? Droplets spread the virus. By following good respiratory hygiene you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu, and COVID-19.
5. If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early
Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention, and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority.
Why? National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on the situation in your area. Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also protect you and help prevent the spread of viruses and other infections. This part does not concern member of the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria.
6. Stay informed and follow the advice given by your healthcare provider
Stay informed on the latest developments about COVID-19. Follow the advice given by your healthcare provider, your national and local public health authority, or your employer on how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.
Why? National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on whether COVID-19 is spreading in your area. They are best placed to advise on what people in your area should be doing to protect themselves.
PROTECTIVE MEASURES FOR PERSONS WHO HAVE RECENTLY VISITED (PAST 14 DAYS) AREAS WHERE COVID-19 IS SPREADING ACCORDING TO WHO.
i. Follow the guidance outlined above.
ii. Stay at home, if you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and a slight runny nose, until you recover. Why? Avoiding contact with others and visits to medical facilities will allow these facilities to operate more effectively and help protect you and others from possible COVID-19 and other viruses.
iii. If you develop fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical advice promptly as this may be due to a respiratory infection or other serious condition. Call in advance and tell your provider of any recent travel or contact with travelers.
Why? Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also help to prevent possible spread of COVID-19 and others.
WAYS TO PROTECT OURSELVES AND FAMILIES
Children are a major vector for the spread of droplet-based viruses because they interact physically so much with each other and are not the best at keeping themselves clean.
The virus appears to impact older people more commonly but children can be infected and they can get a severe illness, the government warns.
However, you can greatly lower the risk that children pose of spreading or catching viruses by:
i. Explaining to them how germs spread and the importance of good hand and face hygiene
ii. Ensuring that they stick to the rules on social distancing so no meeting up with friends however bored they are getting
iii. Keeping household surfaces clean, especially kitchens, bathrooms, door handles and light switches
iv. Using clean or disposable cloths to wipe surfaces so you don’t transfer germs from one surface to another
v. Giving everyone their own towel and making sure they know not to share toothbrushes etc
vi. Keep your home dry and airy (bugs thrive in musty environments)
vii. Avoid public gathering for now, and know that it is for your own good.
viii. The government is advising that people stay at home and practice social distancing. Stay at least three meters away from other people.
ix. Wash your hands with soap always and sanitize them
I want to assure you that no member of the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria shall not be affected with Covid-19 by the grace of almighty God. We have to be healthy to assist those affected and also give assistance to the poor and the vulnerable at this trying period. Therefore, there is nothing to worry about, but knowledge is power.
CONCERNS OF THE CHARTERED INSTITUTE OF FORENSIC AND INVESTIGATIVE PROFESSIONALS OF NIGERIA (CIFIPN)
Based on the relevance of forensic pathology in the fight against Coronavirus (COVOD-19) in China where it originated from, we need to state that Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria would have been better equipped and at the forefront of this fight now in Nigeria just as it was in China, if the Bill to establish CIFIPN was signed earlier as expected. Unfortunately, we cannot do much now due to a lack of enabling law. However, within the extent of our ability, we restate our commitment to Project Nigeria at all cost.
As part of its commitment to our country as earlier promised in the first address, CIFIPN have been able to distribute sanitizers, 13 cartons of face masks, 50 bags of Rice and 150 cartons of Indomies, Salt, 50 cartons of Biscuits, etc to some IDPs within the FCT already just as you were informed earlier, and we promised to continue to do more as the occasion demands.
We urge all our members and indeed the general public to support the fight against Covid-19 while we are hopeful of the government giving CIFIPN its proper legal framework without further delay for efficiency in its responsibilities.
Dr.(Mrs)Enape Victoria Ayishetu, PhD,FCFIP,FCNA.FCTI,FCA,CFE,MNIM,CPFA
Pro-tem President, Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria (CIFIPN)