Stay at home, wash your hands, main­tain so­cial dis­tance

Daily Trust - - Front Page -

For Nige­ria and Nige­ri­ans, this past week has been the worst yet with re­spect to the global COVID-19 pan­demic. What with the num­ber of in­fected per­sons slowly ris­ing by the day, with dis­clo­sures that VVIPs have been in­fected by the virus, and with the coun­try steadily go­ing into lock­down. We recorded our first COVID-19 death this week, in the former man­ag­ing direc­tor of the Pe­tro­leum Prod­ucts Mar­ket­ing Com­pany [PPMC] Su­laiman Achimugu. May his soul rest in per­fect peace.

All schools in Nige­ria have been closed down. Na­tional

Assem­bly has sus­pended sit­tings. Fed­eral Ex­ec­u­tive Coun­cil [FEC] no longer meets. Civil ser­vants in many states ex­cept those on es­sen­tial ser­vices have been told to stay at home. Mosques and churches are closed to con­gre­ga­tional prayers and ser­vices. In­ter­na­tional flights into Nige­ria are sus­pended. Joint Ad­mis­sions and Ma­tric­u­la­tion Board [JAMB] hur­riedly con­cluded its ma­tric­u­la­tion ex­ams. West African Ex­am­i­na­tions Coun­cil [WAEC] sus­pended its school cer­tifi­cate ex­ams. Na­tional Sports Fes­ti­val was sus­pended. Mar­kets in many cities are closed. Many fac­to­ries and pri­vate sec­tor of­fices too are closed, in­clud­ing some banks. Many peo­ple have also gone into seclu­sion ei­ther be­cause they re­cently trav­elled abroad or be­cause they min­gled with

in­fected per­sons.

As at yes­ter­day, the Nige­ria Cen­ter for Dis­ease Con­trol [NCDC] con­firmed 46 cases of COVID-19 in Nige­ria. Com­pared to the dis­as­trous statis­tics in many coun­tries, this fig­ure is rel­a­tively low. It is how­ever noth­ing to beat our chests about. Given our over­all level of de­vel­op­ment and the state of our health ser­vices, even one con­firmed case of COVID-19 in this coun­try is very bad in­deed. This is es­pe­cially true given the highly con­ta­gious na­ture of the novel corona virus. It may not be the dead­li­est of in­fec­tions but the rate at which it spreads through hu­man pop­u­la­tions like wild­fire is such as mankind has not wit­nessed prob­a­bly since the Span­ish flu pan­demic of 1918 and be­fore that, the bubonic plagues of the 17th­cen­tury.

NCDC has been very alert from Day One when this dis­ease first broke out in China. All thanks to its ef­forts and those of the Fed­eral Min­istry of Health as well as the news me­dia, virtually ev­ery Nige­rian is now aware of this pan­demic and the dan­gers it poses to our ex­is­tence. Coun­tries much more de­vel­oped than we are such as USA, UK, Italy and China, with what we re­gard as so­phis­ti­cated and ef­fi­cient health care sys­tems, are vis­i­bly suf­fer­ing from this pan­demic and their sys­tems are al­most over­whelmed. It is a dire warn­ing of what could hap­pen if COVID-19 spi­rals out of con­trol here, so our best op­tion is to try to stop it in its tracks when the rate of in­fec­tions is still rel­a­tively low.

Even though NCDC has been up and do­ing from the word go, the same can­not be said of the Fed­eral Govern­ment and the state gov­ern­ments. In­stead of tak­ing a cue when coun­tries such as Iran and Saudi Ara­bia were tak­ing stern mea­sures to com­bat the pan­demic from their soil, we smugly con­tin­ued to do things as usual un­til the ar­rival of the in­fected Ital­ian trav­eler into La­gos hit us like a thun­der­bolt. It was no­tice­able, for ex­am­ple, that Saudi Ara­bia took stern mea­sures, in­clud­ing stop­ping the lesser pil­grim­age and clos­ing the two Holy Mosques be­fore it had any COVID-19 case on its soil.

Now that we have re­cov­ered from our ini­tial slum­ber and our au­thor­i­ties at all lev­els are adopt­ing dras­tic mea­sures to halt COVID-19, we urge them to take even more stern mea­sures.Only yes­ter­day, the Nige­ria Academy of Science called for a na­tional lock down “now that the dis­ease has in­vaded the high­est level of our govern­ment and is threat­en­ing our na­tional se­cu­rity.” The Academy said in a state­ment by its pres­i­dent Kalu Mosto On­uoha that a four-week na­tional lock­down, with uni­form reg­u­la­tions and led by the fed­eral govern­ment, “will help to re­duce the num­ber of new im­por­ta­tions and pro­vide the en­vi­ron­ment and con­di­tion for clear thinking and plan­ning. In four weeks, virtually all COVID-19 cases and con­tacts should have been dis­cov­ered or should have re­cov­ered.” The Academy saida lock­down­will also help Nige­ria re­duce trans­mis­sion and even give time for case man­age­ment and re­cov­er­ies.

Lock­downs are pain­ful and un­pop­u­lar, but the real pain will come if we do not do some­thing and the virus veers out of con­trol. The World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion [WHO] warned last week that even though Africa is so far the least in­fected re­gion, we must rise to the chal­lenge at this stage be­cause [WHO po­litely did not put it this way] we have the least ca­pac­ity of all con­ti­nents to tackle a full-blown pan­demic. Nor could we ex­pect much help from abroad be­cause COVID-19 is a lit­eral case of ev­ery man for him­self.

Luck­ily, COVID-19 could be halted in our land if, as a peo­ple, we sto­ically rise up and obey the in­struc­tions of med­i­cal and po­lit­i­cal au­thor­i­ties.The first one is to strictly ob­serve the lock­down.We know this is dif­fi­cult be­cause peo­ple must go out to get some es­sen­tial sup­plies while many oth­ers have no food or sup­plies in their houses. Rel­a­tives, friends, neigh­bours and Good Sa­mar­i­tans should step in and help be­cause the lock­downs stand be­tween us and dis­as­ter.

Next to staying at home, we should reg­u­larly wash our hands with soap and, where avail­able, with sani­tis­ers. We should cover our faces with masks and avoid touch­ing our faces with our hands be­cause that is how the virus finds its way through our eyes, noses and mouths. And we should main­tain as much so­cial dis­tance as pos­si­ble by stop­ping all large gath­er­ings and by stand­ing sev­eral feet away from one an­other. We should then promptly re­port all sus­pected cases of in­fec­tion. If we do all these, cou­pled with prayers from in­side our homes, we may just suc­ceed in avert­ing a calamity of a life­time.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Nigeria

© PressReader. All rights reserved.