At the very moment, the global community is plagued by a disease that is no respecter of persons. We are in a season that he who extends an arm of kindness must take heed lest he be rewarded with viruses on his palms. Hence, the underlying question for Nigeria, just as for others, is not to be begged, but in dire need of a sincere answer – “what measures are put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus?”
COVID-19, or novel coronavirus, as synonymously called due to its emergence in December 2019, is an infectious respiratory disease characterized by fever, sneezes, cough, high temperature and difficulty in breathing at the extreme. The virus spreads primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose. Thus, the disease could be contracted through physical contacts such as handshaking, touching of infected surfaces, inter alia. Hence, the advocacy for social distancing and other precautionary measures.
The big statement about the pandemic is that Nigeria is vulnerable, yet unprepared. This is not a malicious statement because the very actions of the government and masses speak louder than the pen in this instance. How?
Firstly, a proper examination of the lockdown and its effects would suffice. On Monday 30th March, 2020, the directive of the Presidency to commence a lockdown in Lagos, Ogun and Abuja was carried out. Consecutively, some states followed suit. After its deadline, some more weeks were added. Yes, it is to the end that the virus is contained. However, the government and some masses still get some things wrong. Some individuals still flout the stay-at-home order. This is a breach and those caught are penalized. Well, the root cause of their flouting orders can be traced to the need for life’s necessities. This is where the government has a share of the blame. If the states are to be locked down, what provisions are put in place to cater for the needs of the masses – at worst, their daily bread? Surely, there are two killers now – the hunger within and virus without. If a balanced measure is not employed, the Nigeria we see may be wiped out, for we are not prepared.
In light of the above, I humbly comment on the modus operandi employed by some states to fight this pandemic. To what end is the directive of a 7am – 7pm curfew of some states? The feasible answer is its ability to curb the spread of the pandemic. In sincerity, how effective is this medium? I guess this is where the state governments are getting it twisted too. Naturally, a very large percentage of the populace do not work at night in open spaces. It is in the course of journeying and working to and fro by day that this virus is being spread. It is worthy to note that the virus moves when we move. Social distancing is mostly observed by day, not night when men sleep. We are not prepared!
Furthermore, it is pertinent to shed light on the use of face masks. It is incessantly becoming hilarious. The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and professional health bodies over the world have pronounced the use of face mask as a preventive measure to the pandemic, but many have made a funny show of it. Various designs are used with various fabric and plastic materials that only make us clowns and not hygienic. On 1st April, 2020, Nigeria, according to the NCDC update, recorded 174 cases. Barely a score and ten days after, she bagged a record of 2,170 cases. Permit me to take you on a brief mathematical journey. Looking at the geometric progression in the digits, there is a percentage increase of 1,147.14%. This is outrageous and alarming. No one needs to call me a prophet if I say we would have a double portion and it comes through. In fact, as at today, the figure stands at 4,787. If we do not intentionally carry out hygienic practices, I can not but say we are unprepared.
More so, the current state of the nation’s economy cannot be overlooked. Majority of the sectors are paralyzed at the moment – education, transportation and aviation sectors, to mention a few. One of the few sectors in active service is the health sector. Indeed, many thanks be to the health workers around the country and globe at large who work around the clock to savage the life of citizens. However, it is worthy to note that the nation’s economy is crumbling. Daily rates and statistics reveal that the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is reducing. The price of oil in the international community has depreciated. What then do we say to the looming economic crisis in spite of Nigeria’s present status? We are unprepared!
It is of no new phenomenon that there is no established cure nor vaccine for the viral disease. Indubitably, Nigeria has a rich cultural heritage of herbs and spices. It is, thus, a welcome idea to say a trial in herbs may be an antidote to the coronavirus. However, adequate care and standardization must be taken in regard of acclaimed consumption and prescriptions from various so-called producers. If a contrary is done and consequences follow consecutively, many will remember I countlessly said “we are unprepared”.
To this end, the question at the introduction of this article must be answered, not just in words, but in actions. There is little done but more we can still do. A collective effort of the government and masses, with each arm playing its part industriously, will be most appreciated when we all come out of this.
Written by: AKANLE, Samuel Ayobami