The COVID 19 virus (otherwise known as the Coronavirus) that originated in Wuhan, China is a pandemic that has disrupted the world at every level. It has brought fear, crisis, distress, anxiety, worry, complete shutdown of various industries and economy and even death. Just like the arrival of its cousin the “Spanish flu” in 1918. it is not something that has been prepared for and the survival rates seem to be dependent on factors such as the strength of one’s immune system, rapid response in treating the respiratory disease as well the health system in place.
The first we heard of coronavirus case in Nigeria was on the 28th of February 2020 a case belonging to the Italian man who visited Lagos from Milan and from there began contact tracing. So far , Nigeria has had coronavirus incident cases in Lagos state, Ogun state, Ekiti, Ibadan, Osun, Rivers, Bauchi, and Abuja. The Nigerian government as since then claimed to be strengthening its efforts to ensure that the outbreak is contained.
THE COUNTRY’S VULNERABILITY
Personally I am of the notion that Nigeria is very vulnerable to COVID 19 and you will be introduced to these reasons as you read further.To start with, Nigeria took its time before making a decision /announcement on the closure of its borders considering that the index case of the COVID 19 became known on the 28th of February 2020. There was a partial land border closure on the 23rd of March 2020 while the ban on international flights was to commence on the 26th of March 2020. Noting this, one would say that Nigeria to a large extent is vulnerable as the increase in case we have had so far has been traced to individuals coming from high risked counties.
There is also the case of the sheer ignorance of many Nigerians as many do not even believe that there is anything like COVID 19 . Do you really blame them? Even the president found it very difficult to pronounce the virus. I went grocery shopping some days ago and the Uber man that picked me up found it assuming that I had sought of geared up. He went further to say that there was nothing like covid 19 or coronavirus and it’s all propaganda by our leaders to divert funds. I then decided to explain how things had been going and so I showed him pictures and videos before he now quietly asked me how he could purchase a hand sanitizer. This begs the question as to what our public enlightenment agencies are really doing. If someone in Lagos (a metropolitan city can say this ) how much more those located in the rural areas of the country.
It would be sightless of me not to mention the phenomenon that occurred on Sunday the 23rd of March 2020 after the government had put a ban on the gathering (of any kind) that constituted more than 50 people. A handful of religious ministries with thousands of congregations didn’t adhere to this putting thousands of lives in jeopardy. This begs the question as to what the priority of some of our religious leaders truly are ( don’t get me started on this today ).
Yet another problem that is noteworthy has been the dispersal of fake news which in turn has led to fear and anxiety. I can boldly say that half of the Nigerian population suspect themselves of having the COVID 19 viruses and this is not the kind of panic we need. A perfect example is a sudden increase in the consumption of chloroquine which was rumored to be very effective in treating the virus. This led to a spike in price as well as drug poisoning in the country. A number of people have also been reported to have called the NCDC response line hereby making it difficult for those who really need help to get help. Nevertheless, there are some with the school of thought that only fear can curb the nonchalant behavior of many Nigerians. It’s not surprising that the Nigerian singer Simi shared that we need “fear” as a weapon for Nigerians to take this pandemic seriously.
Who are the people bearing the brunt of the virus right now? They are those who depend on wages as their source of livelihood. Those that cannot afford to take a break from work because that means hunger for them. The disadvantaged are the ones that are trying to protect themselves by buying the necessary things they need not because they have the money but because they have to (yet end up being extorted). Nigerians are used to taking advantage of themselves yet they cry “why” when their leaders do the same to them. Is it not ironical that the prices of various health supplies have just miraculously skyrocketed. Items such as thermometer, hand gloves, face mask as well hand sanitizers are either unavailable because some people decided to hoard them for themselves or because they are being sold at unreasonable prices.
The disadvantaged are the homeless. The government keeps asking them to self-isolate or avoid social distancing but they don’t even have a home. The disadvantaged are the salary earners that are collecting next to nothing as their take-home but now have to stock their homes with the little they have . Some have even been refused salaries and these salaries might not even be given to them until April. The commoner is disadvantaged, an average Nigerian is at a disadvantaged point. The ones that have failing health which could have been prevented by having good medical treatment available to them are disadvantaged. There are so many other diseases that kill people every day yet none of our leaders focus on them even many of our philanthropists ignore situations like this.
CONFIDENCE LEVEL OF NIGERIANS RIGHT NOW.
The confidence level of Nigerians towards the tackling of this pandemic is no doubt low spirited. If you ask an average Nigerian if he would like to get tested for the COVID 19, their reply would probably be yes but they would rather not go have that test. A country where people are scared of getting tested because of the thought of getting infected at the Point of examination or even fear of being given the wrong result. There are others that feel that they would definitely have a better chance at surviving in their homes by self-medicating and even with the use of local herbs ( which I strongly advise against). The question many Nigerians are asking is “what would be their fate if this pandemic continues? Would they be fed? Would they be given shelter or food or medical supplies? Would there be any law out there to ensure that their jobs are safe? Or even to ensure that their employers pay them? Would the Nigerian government just like the United States of America, Canada, or even Dubai provide for them or formulate a plan/law that will ensure that they are being taken care of? Would Nigeria adopt the responses of other countries in tackling this pandemic? Will the government be transparent with we the citizens?
As at the time of writing this article the world health organization (WHO) report indicated that as of March 22, 2020, Nigeria has only tested 152 people with a record of 40 persons being positive which represents 26% while South Africa has only tested 15,000 with about 702 positive cases representing about 5%. With these figures, it is left to us to try and protect ourselves, stay safe, and adhere to strict precautions. As of today 26th of March 2020, there are 51 cases (2recovered and 1 death) and only 178 people have been tested out of 200 million. There is no doubt that the Nigerian government has a lot to do in these trying times.