• Monday, May 27, 2024
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BusinessDay

COVID-19: Nigeria reopening but measures must be stricter

Covid-19 testing lab

Contrary to the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Covid-19 chairman, Boss Mustapha’s assumptions, it is, indeed, too early to say Nigeria is flattening the Covid-19 curve despite improvements in the number of cases recorded across Nigeria.

We must not be complacent but continue to enforce preventive measures against the deadly virus.

The devastating impact of the pandemic is obvious. It is the reason for the sharp contraction in the country’s GDP by -6.1 percent. The need to return to normalcy may have instigated some form of hastiness to fully resume activities in states like Lagos.

But, it is important we caution that people do not forget the COVID-19 induced lifestyles in a hurry, else, the country as a whole risks a second wave of the virus.

Countries like Israel and the United Kingdom have begun experiencing a second wave of the pandemic which is more threatening. In response, these countries have imposed a second nationwide lockdown.

We must remember that the COVID-19 is a pandemic. Hence, a claim that Nigeria is flattening the incidence curve is laughable when the country just resumed international flights and reopened schools for students. From experience in other parts of the world, especially Europe, most countries come down with a second wave shortly after such a move.

Factors such as age demographics, pre-existing health conditions, and weather may have limited the spread and fatality of the pandemic in Africa, especially Nigeria. However, if containment measures are not prioritised, intensified and enforced, these factors may also be the reason for a prolonged outbreak over a few years.

Also, we can’t be speaking of flattening the curve when it has been proven that most cases in Nigeria are asymptomatic and testing capacity is still very low. According to data from the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Nigeria has tested 484,051 samples. This represents a meagre 0.24 percent of an estimated population of 200 million.

It is impressive that so far, of 57,437 confirmed cases, 84.7 percent have recovered while 1.9 percent unfortunately lost their lives. However, these figures do not depict the true state of things and only through increased testing can we ascertain for sure how effectively the combat against COVID-19 has been.

It is evident that the compliance of Nigerians to safety measures against the virus is gradually waning and this signals a “red flag”, especially now that full reopening is kicking in. We should be concerned and shouldn’t be promoting the perception that the COVID-19 curve is flattening – which obviously isn’t the case. Doing so will only worsen the case.

Nigerians are of three categories. The few that know the virus exists and, therefore, religiously adhere to the safety guidelines are the first group. The second is the set of people who once believed its existence but now thinks it’s all over while the third category are many others who never believed the COVID-19 virus ever existed in Nigeria due to lack of trust in government.

It is important that while we resume activities across states, we must prioritise sensitization of Nigerians, reiterating the need to abide by hygienic measures in the fight against COVID-19 virus. We must also improve testing capacity across states. Now, we need more tests than ever to guide government decisions on COVID-19 related issues.

Now that students are back in school, it is imperative that schools comply with measures aimed to ameliorate the spread of the virus. Pupils may have strong immune systems to fight against the symptoms of the virus when contracted but they can be carriers.

This makes them a risk to their parents and aged family members at home who may not have a strong immune system to fight the virus. With international flights open, we must ensure testing and isolation is carried out on travellers coming into the country to cancel the possibility of a second wave in Nigeria.