The Nigerian approach to curb the spread of COVID-19 is in tandem with other countries’ approach especially China, the epicentre of the pandemic.
Restriction of movement is a major national step that could stem the rate of the spread. The national broadcast of Mr President, Muhammad Buhari locking down two states and FCT is considered a veritable step to see immediate onslaught against the spread of coronavirus in Nigeria.
All other states of the federation have been previously locked down through various means of curfew to restrict the movement of the people as a necessary step curb the coronavirus spread.
As at now, the spread of COVID-19 is still taking its usual pattern in Nigeria with steady increase in the number of reported cases.
The NCDC data of the prevalence no doubt showed an encouraging attention of the various governmental organs against the spread but what of those suspected cases that were not captured and the event of things showing the possibility that those patients could have actually been COVID-19 patients?
The enormity of the spread of COVID-19 may have been downplayed by the simple means of lack of adequate test kits for every patient showing symptoms no matter how little and the inability of many to get the necessary attention even when they kept on buzzing the emergency hotlines of the agencies against COVID-19.The stay at home directives of most state governments seem to be turning out an open page order without the will to enforce it. I believe the government is also aware of the grave dangers inherent in locking people at home without provisions for their survival.
In one of my earlier write ups, I mentioned the political undertone for many approaches embarked upon by political office holders in a time like this to safe their face, but cautioned of the colossal damages that await a pat on the wrist method of enforcement especially when human lives are concerned.
Donald Trump is technically overwhelmed and I believe this is the major point this outbreak is expected to wreck on the American leadership. The death toll now above twelve thousand and still counting is not a burden our fragile Nigeria economy and weak healthcare structure should be subjected to.
Restriction of movement was not fully entrenched in USA and the daily cases of COVID-19 prevalence is justifying a weak approach to face the scourge.
Back home in Nigeria, although many states have declared various types of restrictions, curfew and the rest of them, the populace are still unaware of the rampaging, unseen weapon of mass destruction moving around the streets and in various places. A visit to our markets is a sorry scene similar to the snake market in Wuhan City at the onset of this scourge in China.
Our people believed the disease is that of the rich men and cannot come near them. Yesterday at a banking facility, a woman was saying that she is yet to believe the reality of the COVID 19 invasion. “She had not seen anyone around her with the disease for her to believe”
The question now is, if we want to see someone with the frank infection before we believe, are we going to be spared?
Our populace is the major point of attention to stop the unfortunate from visiting our nation. We need to step up surveillance and strategic publicity in addition to enforcement on the use of personal protective equipment at this time before it slides to the unexpected dimension.
Recently, USA, Canada and Lebanon have been evacuating their nationals from Nigeria on a very strong security report of what may be visiting Nigeria soon. Are we seeing this ourselves?
The federal government’s intention to bring in the Chinese doctors is also another dimension to what is on the ground in Nigeria. While everyone is skeptical of the overall benefit of 18 doctors to the population of 200million Nigerians, the government step is also an open acceptance of her failures in ensuring qualitative healthcare system for the citizens.
Importation of Chinese doctors on its own will come with various challenges ranging from starting up a new treatment protocols which may destroy our success stories so far in mitigating the spread of the scourge. Nigeria has however, been commended for her bravery in tackling Ebola outbreak and even with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Why change a winning horse?
This is the time all the healthcare professionals rise in unison to reject this move but rather demand adequate funding and policies to deliver enduring healthcare in Nigeria.
The populace must be given soft landing through government intervention for bulk purchase of food items so that civil servants with identity could be entitled to specific quota per month and the amount deducted on installment from their salaries going forward. The populace also can benefit from such plan through accredited commodity merchants that ensure every adult with biometric identification could benefit from such programme at reduced cost. To keep the people at home, it needs strong commitment from government at this time.
With the bulk of civil servants taken away from those bombarding the markets for food items, the markets would be decongested and also have a control on the skyrocketing price hikes of commodities putting pressure on the survival of the people.
Winning the war against COVID-19 is not a mere word of mouth but effective engagement of all factors that must be brought to bear on this scourge. While the various task forces are on the front line for prevention of transmission and treatment, keeping people at home is also a major attention that must be seen as a necessary step for a turnaround of our situation.
We shall surely Overcome COVID 19 in Nigeria when everyone plays his or her own role appropriately.
– Ajibade FPSN, is an public affairs analyst