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COVID-19: How vulnerable are the states in Nigeria?

In Nigeria, the impact of the coronavirus, whether confirmed cases or deaths, defers by regions. This is because of the different level of vulnerabilities (i.e. the impact of the virus on a community after the virus arrives) of the different regions and/or states. By and large, Nigeria appears to be less vulnerable overall despite the fact that it is densely populated compared to other African countries. Do the states reflect so?

The second wave of the coronavirus hit Nigeria as did other countries across the globe when the country recorded over a thousand (1145) new cases on December 17, 2020, making the total infected cases rise to 76,207 and death toll at 1,201 in the same day; according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). With existing challenges like food insecurity and humanitarian crises in some regions, many states became more vulnerable.

Available data from NCDC showed that about 10 per cent of the COVID-19 tested population have contracted the virus whether asymptomatic or not. This puts the total positive cases at 122,996, out of which 98.359 persons later tested negative to the virus after receiving treatment, and not more than 1.2 per cent of those who contracted the virus had passed on as at January 26, 2021.

By region, the south west accounts for about 47.65 per cent of the confirmed cases; the north central, 23.03 per cent; north west, 10.88 per cent; south south, 10.15 per cent; south east 4.84 per cent; and the north east accounts for 4.05 per cent of the total confirmed cases in the country within the reference period. Every community in Nigeria will be affected by COVID-19, but will it be in the same way and will it make the same impact?

To fight the COVID-19 pandemic requires the understanding of whom or which state is most vulnerable and why, where the disease is spreading fastest, and how interventions like social distancing are working. This is why data from the Africa Covid-19 Community Vulnerability Index (CCVI) reveals that Nigeria has an overall CCV index of 0.11, an index between 0 and 1 (very low to very high).

Read Also: COVID-19: 4.2m Nigerian children in need of life-saving support

However, not all states reflect this index as some are more vulnerable than the other. Of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), the most vulnerable states are, Jigawa, Zamfara, Sokoto, and all the north east states but Adamawa; whereas, Edo, kogi, Nasarawa, Enugu, and all the south west states but Ogun are the least vulnerable as shown in the graph. This means that the most vulnerable region is the north east while the least vulnerable is the south west. This vulnerability for each state is relative to other states.

A number of factors are responsible for the high index in those states from socioeconomic vulnerability like education, poverty, access to information; population density; housing and transportation issues like household crowding, sanitation, road connectivity; epidemiological factors like infectious diseases prevalence, smoking; health system factors; fragility like civil unrest, food insecurity; and age (the number of people aged 65 and above).

Source: Surgo Foundation, BRIU
In Nigeria today, people living in vulnerable communities like Yobe, the most vulnerable state with 3.62 per cent fatality rate are six times likely to have died from COVID-19 compared to low vulnerability communities like Lagos with 0.64 per cent fatality rate. Many of the most vulnerable communities in Nigeria are burdened because people do not have equitable access to health care, affordable housing, transportation, childcare, or safe and secure employment, to mention a few.

A peep into one of these vulnerable states revealed some factors that might have contributed to its high index. For example, let us deep dive the Covid-19 situation report in Gombe State, one of the most vulnerable states.

Gombe, in north east Nigeria, is the second most vulnerable state relative to other states with a CCVI of 0.97. By ranking, it is the 15th state with the highest cases of Covid-19 in Nigeria, totalled 1,568, and a fatality rate of 2.68 per cent. Rating by some indices between 0 and 1 (very good to very bad), the state has a high socioeconomic vulnerability of 0.81, poor health system (0.92) and yet very fragile (0.92).

Aside these, the state have about six treatment centres with inadequate health personnel and equipment with the following variance in personnel: doctors (9), nurses (9), health assistants (7), and admin staff (4); while equipment like oxygen cylinders (30), oxygen concentrators (30), laryngoscope (20), and resuscitator (51) are lacking, to mention a few.

Within the test centre in Gombe, that is, the molecular diagnostic laboratory, 10 lab scientists, 2 nurses are deficient; while some other equipment like biosafety cabinet installation and certification, and Copan universal transport medium are in short supply. Similarly, all the equipment needed for contact tracing across the six clusters are unavailable.

From the data, 0.83 per cent of people who get infected are expected to require acute care, based on the age and gender distribution of the Gombe’s population. Also, the mobility data in Gombe shows greater reductions suggesting more social distancing, relative to a pre-pandemic baseline, especially at retail, recreation centres, supermarkets and pharmacies based on the available data from National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), produced by governmental agencies and external organisations, providing data and insights into the COVID-19 situation in Nigeria.

Since the impact of Covid-19 pandemic varies depending on regions and/or states, BusinessDay Research and Intelligence Unit (BRIU) will produce a coronavirus report that focuses on the spread and impact of the virus as well as its vulnerability that key stake holders, federal and state governments can use to shape policies that is beneficial to all.

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