Nigerian health workers launched a strike Monday over pay, COVID-19 bonuses and inadequate facilities, union leaders said, in the latest work stoppage in the West African country.

The industrial action under the auspices of the Joint Health Workers Union (JOHESU) came just four days after resident doctors called off their strike.

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JOHESU, comprising pharmacists, nurses, midwives and radiographers, are frontline workers in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. JOHESU said it called the strike after a meeting with the authorities failed to meet its demands on the back pay, a virus hazard allowance as well as badly needed hospital repairs.

“It was unanimously agreed that since nothing concrete was achieved at the said meeting with the federal government, that the strike notice is still germane and alive,” the union said. As of midnight Sunday, “our members shall withdraw their services due to the federal government’s inability to meet their demands,” it added in a statement.The government has condemned the strike as unnecessary, ill-timed and illegal.“Any strike now is inimical to an equable settlement of the dispute, bearing in mind especially that this is a grave period of a pandemic,” the labour ministry said in a statement late Sunday.

Authorities fear any reduction in capacity could harm the country’s ability to tackle the pandemic as its caseload continues to rise.Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation with 200 million inhabitants, has so far recorded 56,256 cases and 1,082 deaths.Around 1,000 health workers have been infected, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.

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