BusinessDay

A new wave of COVID-19 is a threat to Nigeria’s recovery

Just a few months into the gradual recovery of Nigeria’s economy from the pandemic shock and recession, the country may be at risk of encountering another economic and financial shock. Without expediting action put in place, achieving the set sustainable development goals may be invisible.

Every country is prone to the impact of COVID-19 on its economy. Nigeria, like other countries, is not safe and free from the shock of COVID-19 experience with its level of international relations with other countries of the world.

The first wave of COVID-19 started in Nigeria in February 2020 when an Italian citizen was tested positive for the virus in Lagos state. The second wave took its toll on the country in October 2020, with a more rising negative impact on the economy. In July 2021, the third wave of COVID-19 was announced. Nigerians face the risk of experiencing the fourth wave of COVID-19 with the discovery of the Omicron variant in South Africa; this poses another threat to the recovery trend of the economy.

On a regional basis in Nigeria, Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS) data shows that the South-West has the highest infection cases of 49. 02 percent followed by North-Central with 19.91 percent, South-South -12.49 percent, North-West – 9.16 percent, South-East – 5.32 percent, and North-East – 4.1 percent. The highest cases in South- West may be because Lagos state is the first contact point of most visitors entering the country.

As of November 28, 2021, NBS data shows that 213,982 confirmed cases within the country. The total number of death is 2,361, while the total number of people tested are 2,750,298 out of the over 206 million population in the country. The limitation experienced in the health sector in carrying out an excellent COVID-19 test constrained the sector from publishing the actual true cases of those infected.

Read Also: How COVID-19 shaped Nigeria’s unemployment crisis in 5 numbers

With the existence of different variants of COVID-19 across the world, the Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and the just discovered Omicron in South Africa, there is a lack of equity and fairness in the distribution of vaccines to tackle the virus, as African countries have been underserved in the global vaccine supply. About 880 million vaccines are needed to vaccinate 40 percent of sub-Saharan countries’ inhabitants. As of October 2021, there were only 125 million vaccines delivered and 72 million vaccines administered. This shows that only 2.6 percent of the population was fully vaccinated.

Nigeria’s goal is to ensure that 40 percent of the population is vaccinated by the end of 2021 and 70 percent by 2022. Only 1.5 percent of the population were fully vaccinated, while 2.7 percent have received one vaccination dose. 24. 9 million doses of the vaccines were delivered by COVAX, 1.8 million by African Union, and 400,000 are donations received.

The government put several measures to curtail the spread of COVID-19, including lockdown of non-essential activities, a ban on an international flight, and closure of schools, among others.

In effect, no family in Nigeria is left out of the shock experienced by the COVID-19 pandemic. The impact of the pandemic is felt mostly among informal sector workers who earn their source of living from daily business carried out. The restriction of movement reduced their income. The effect is not only on jobs and livelihoods. It also affected the welfare of the individual as the high inflation compounded a negative impact on welfare, making many households reduce their food consumption due to low incomes.

Human capital is also negatively affected. There may be a rising gender gap and inequalities as lack of access to school due to shutdowns created unequal access to remote learning. The World Bank report shows that the school’s closure in 2020 reduced the attendance of older children even after reopening, which has a significant impact on human capital. The report also shows that many children are going through depression.

Furthermore, due to the pandemic, Nigerians have resulted in retail and trade jobs, few of which produce a safe source of income. Many have to go into agriculture to augment the source of livelihoods. The absence of employment after the pandemic caused a great disappointment for many Nigerians resulting in many health challenges, including depression.

The socio-economic hardship faced by people has increased the mental health burden of the people. Global Health Data estimated that about 251-310 million people worldwide experience depression, and over 700,000 people die due to suicide annually.

In America, there is a rise in the percentage of those depressed to about 32.8 percent in 2021. This implies that about one in three adults is depressed.

WHO estimates show that close to 76 -85 percent of people suffering from depression in low and middle-income countries lack access to adequate care. In Nigeria, the estimate shows that one in every four experience mental problems and around 17,710 suicide death was recorded in 2019. Although Nigeria is neither in the list of the top or least depressed countries with its current suicide rate at 3.9 percent, effort should be made to avoid the country slipping into the list of the top countries.

In conclusion, although the recovery in Nigeria from the COVID-19 shock surpassed the expectation of international standards and organisations, with the discovery of the Omicron variant a few weeks to Christmas, Nigeria may experience another socio-economic shocks if immediate measures are not implemented to curb the pandemic’s flow into the country.

Busayo Aderounmu is an economics lecturer at Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State.

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