t 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.
The Association of Forensic and Investigative Auditors in Nigeria (AFIA)
While commending the efforts of the Federal Government, relevant Government agencies, professionals in the health sector as well as the organised 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 challenge as well as the opportunity to demonstrate not only our resilience as a people but also our will-power to emerge victorious and surmount any challenge that presents itself in our national journey.
AFIA 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 AFIA 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 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 corona virus disease 2019 （COVID-19） and can provide 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 cyber criminals 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, AFIA wishes to assure the Nigeria public that its members have determined to avail themselves to be of service to Nigeria at this trying period in the fight against Covid-19
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.
Maintain at least 1 metre (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 virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.
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.
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 virus. By following good respiratory hygiene you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.
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 spread of viruses and other infections. This part does not concern member of the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria.
Stay informed on the latest developments about COVID-19. Follow 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.
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 severe illness, the government warns.
However, you can greatly lower the risk that children pose of spreading or catching viruses by:
PROTECTECTIVE MEASURES FOR PERSONS WHO HAVE RECENTLY VISITED (PAST 14 DAYS) AREAS WHERE COVID-19 IS SPREADING ACCORDING TO WHO
As part of its commitment to our country, AFIA has decided to distribute relevant materials to assist in the fight against Covid-19 which includes; sanitizers, face masks, food stuffs and other health materials to some of the IDPs within the FCT, 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 frame work without further delay for efficiency in its responsibilities.
In view of the above, we encourage members to donate generously towards getting more materials to assist in the fight against Covid-19.
Dr. Victoria Aishetu Enape, PhD, FCFIP. FCNA ,FCTI, FCFA MNIM,CPFA,
Chattered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria (CIFIPN).