The Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Academic, Research, Innovation and Strategic Partnerships (ARISP), of Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti (ABUAD), Professor Damilola S. Olawuyi has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for issuing Covid-19 Regulations 2020 which declares Covid-19 as a “dangerous infectious disease.”
Professor Olawuyi, a prolific and well-regarded scholar of environmental law in Nigeria, noted that the control of infectious diseases such as COVID-19 requires a holistic legal response that addresses the potential impact of an infectious disease on all aspects of the human environment, including water, air, land, economy, and social development.
According to him ‘Curbing the spread of infectious diseases is not a role for health practitioners or institutions alone. The linkages between environmental protection and the attainment of good heath have consequently gained strong recognition in international law. Environmental infection control is the integrated management of infection prevention and control programmes to reflect curative and preventive activities (such as good environmental practices, proper sanitation, water quality control and economic interventions) as means of safeguarding public health.’ He commended President Buhari for putting in place a coherent legal order that anticipates and responds to the potential impact of COVID-19 on all aspects of the Nigerian society.
The don noted that since the Ebola Crisis in 2014, he has consistently advocated that the key provisions of the Quarantine Act 1926, The Quarantine (Ships) Regulations 1968, The Agriculture (Control of Importation) Act of 1964, The Factories Act of 1987, and the NESREA Act amongst others provide adequate legal foundations and bases for policy and regulatory intervention in preventing the introduction and spread of infectious diseases in Nigeria. What has been lacking is a timely and holistic implementation.
He noted that ‘Coming at a time of real need, it is a big relief to see the President activating the legal powers conferred on him by Sections 2, 3 and 4 of the Quarantine Act. The COVID-19 Regulations provide timely, incisive and well needed legal framework for all agencies in Nigeria to work together to pursue a coherent and coordinated agenda to rid Nigeria of COVID-19. It is a welcome development’
He concluded that COVID-19 should not be viewed and discussed only as a threat. Rather it equally provides an opportunity for public and private entities to come together and play proactive roles in promoting best practices on environmental infection control and prevention in Nigeria.