• Monday, May 27, 2024
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Coronavirus: Fear grips Abuja, recreation centers shut, residents shun churches


The dreaded global pandemic, the Coronavirus that has hit Nigeria with some 30 already confirmed cases is beginning to take huge tolls on the residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Over the weekend, the usually very boisterous viewing and recreation centers in the capital city were shut down as palpable fear envelope residents who had since Friday engaged in panic buying to to stock up essentials.

BusinessDay, found that, for instance, a popular viewing centre where residents of Nyanya, a suburb of Abuja, converge in large numbers to watch European football matches, was deserted as almost all the centers had been shut even as the operators complained of losses.

Recall that most of the matches especially in the popular English Premiership have been postponed as part of measures to curb the pandemic.

An operator of one of the viewing centers, who gave his name as Sani, lamented the situation. He told BusinessDay at the weekend that he has lost nearly N300,000 over the last one week and expressed concern that if the situation continued then his business would suffer terrible.

” We have lost close to N300, 000 in the last one week to this Coronavirus. I am afraid our business is suffering and if this thing continues, we don’t know what else to do. We can only hope and pray that they find a lasting solution to this disease,” he lamented.

In the last 72 hours, popular markets like Wuse, Utako located at the central part of the town have been extremely busy like a typical ’23rd/24th December crowding’, as shoppers troop to stock up in case of a sudden lock-down. Prices of commodities have also jumped as demand soared as expected.

“Can you imagine I couldn’t find tomatoes in Wuse market,” a BusinessDay reporter overheard a lady saying Friday night. “I was shocked things are happening this way and I can’t wait for this to get over.”

Shopping malls have also been extremely busy. Sanitizers, face masks have suddenly disappeared from the shelves like the first day the Italian index case was announced.

But an interesting development is that majority of the residents, especially those in the urban city appear well informed and getting extremely cautious.

At some of the malls, in addition to the security checks, shoppers and visitors had their temperature checked and are also directed to use hand sanitizers hung by the two sides of each entrance door.

Messages, videos, mails preaching caution and safety procedures against conoravirus are being frequently circulated among friends, colleagues, family members, neighbours.

At some churches in Abuja, Sunday 22 March, witnessed perhaps one of the lowest in terms of attendance as some churches had as much as 40% reduction in attendance.

At the Living Faith Church Katamkpe, one of the worshippers, who does not want her name on print, said “many people avoided service today because of the social distance prescription. This church used to be filled to the brim but you can see that as much as 40% of the worshippers had failed to come for service.”

Also at the Living Faith Church in Jikwoyi, a worshipper, who gave his name as Michael, said “many did not turn up for service today following this dreaded global pandemic”.

BusinessDay gathered that hand sanitizers have become major prescriptions before people are allowed to go into the churches.

However, BusinessDay gathered that the precautions about social distancing have not really made the impacts on the people who are still seen, for instance crammed in commercial vehicles and markets in Nyanya and the neighbouring Maraba in Nasarawa state.

This poor adherence to the prescriptions may put more people at risk of contacting the virus as more confirmed cases of the virus hit country, especially in a country where the hygiene culture is very poor.

Meanwhile, the Federal Capital Territory (FCTA) on sunday inaugurated an Epidemic Response Committee,  FCT Emergency as part of measures toward effective management of the dreaded coronavirus pandemic.

The committee comprises representatives from the FCT Health Secretariat, National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), World Health Organization (WHO), Tertiary and Private Hospitals.

Performing the inauguration of the Committee on Sunday in Abuja, Acting Secretary of the FCT Health Secretariat, Mohammed Kawu, said the Committee has an Incident Manager, Lawal Ademola and is subdivided into eight functional units, including: coordination, logistics and infection prevention and control.

Others are: epidemiology, surveillance and point of entry laboratory, risk Communication and social mobilization, case management and health and safety (welfare).

Kawu explained that the primary responsibility of the team is to confront the disease in all ramifications and curtail its spread in the nation’s capital.

“Although FCTA has been up and doing ensuring that everything is done to contain the disease but with the confirmation of cases in the FCT, emergency management and treatment is opened and FCT is inaugrating this team”, he stated.

Also speaking, Josephine Okechukwu,  Director of FCT Public Health Department said for now there are four confirmed cases of the covid 19 also known as coronavirus and three are responding to treatment and are stable while 39 cases are only suspected.

Okechukwu who said she personally interacted with the patients noted that one of them is not yet stabilized, noting that the said patient had a serious health issue before traveling abroad to seek medical attention and contracted the coronavirus.

While stressing that FCTA is well prepared to contain the pandemic, she explained that while isolation is for confirmed cases, quarantine is for suspected cases, warning that primary and secondary healthcare centres are not allowed to manage coronavirus.

“I want to assure FCT residents and Nigerians generally, there is no cause for panic. We all know that COVID-19 is just a respiratory tract infection, so it’s not something that is a death sentence. So let’s support people especially family members who have COVID-19, we shouldn’t stigmatise them.

“In FCT, as at now, we had 39 suspected cases, who have been screened for COVID-19, out of which, only four tested positive for the disease in the FCT.

Three of  them are very stable, but one is not too stable when I discussed with them this morning at the Gwagwalada Teaching Hospital” the Public Health Director added.

Speaking on the earlier warning of the FCTA to religious leaders and worshipers to maintain a maximum of 50 persons in a congregation at a time, the Senior Special Assistant to Minister on Media and Strategic Communications, Abubakakar Sani

said the Administration is satisfied with the level of compliance.

“I want to say that from what we observed today, the report we got from the field, the FCT Administration is satisfied with the level of compliance by most of the Churches today. Some of the churches that did not have the time to really sensitize their members we noticed large gathering”, noted.