ANKARA 

Doctors in Nigeria’s capital Abuja have started an “indefinite strike” due to non-payment of a special coronavirus allowance, local media reported on Tuesday.

The Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) announced the decision following a meeting on Saturday, according to the Premium Times news website.

“The association would embark on a strike action with effect from 8 am 1st September 2020 until the payment of the COVID-19 hazard and inducement allowance is received,” their statement said.

Hazard pay or inducement allowance is paid to employees to encourage them to work on a particular project, especially under dangerous conditions. Health care workers are constantly at risk of exposure to the novel virus.

Roland Aigbovo, head of the group’s Abuja chapter, said: “We have not received any hazard allowance since April and that is one of the major reasons we are embarking on a strike.”

Their members have been suffering financial distress, he said, adding that despite repeated ultimatum and warnings, authorities have done nothing to help them.

In June, doctors called off a week-long strike over welfare and inadequate protective equipment.

The group said that the decision, after assurance from officials, was to give them time to fulfill the outstanding demands.

Strikes by medics are common in the country – Africa’s most populous – where the health sector has been underfunded for years.

Since March, Nigerian health authorities have confirmed 54,008 COVID-19 infections, including 1,013 virus-linked deaths.

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