COVID-19 AND LIVING THROUGH A NATIONAL LOCKDOWN IN NIGERIA.
Never, within the last two decades has our social strata seen a disruption on such a scale as it’s now grappling with in recent times. The rise of the Covid-19 pandemic has broken every healthcare system around the world and chased us away from all of our public places, it has forced us to stay at home, and in very extreme cases, to even stay at a distance from one another even while at home. All around the world,governments are battling to not just lead,but to keep their people alive for as long as is necessary before a vaccine finally arrives. While the timing for a vaccine’s arrival has been averagely pegged at 4–12 months,the leadership institutions around the world are placed on a race to see that they keep this virus away from causing more damage than it already has. Worldwide, we have now seen over 600,000 cases in virtually every country of the world with over 20000 deaths.
In Nigeria,as at the time of writing this,there has just been only 85 reported cases, three recoveries and just one death.
If you look at that statistics, for a nation with over 200million people,the outlook might sound good and in a way, would underscore the submission in certain quarters that Covid-19 is only an ailment with a disastrous consequence for the old alone. Nigeria has the largest youth population in the world and this may be a statistics that has kept its cases low….or perhaps,maybe.
Like any other nation of the world,the Nigerian government,save for some very few inefficiencies,has relatively been at the top of handling this pandemic. It could have been worse.
In about 24hours from the time of writing this piece,a national lockdown would be effected across all land boarders in and around the 36 states of Nigeria. In addition to the social distancing, hand washing and stay at home advice,the government believes that a lockdown would help stop the spread of the virus.
The thinking is good,but the lockdown idea from my perspective has failed in addressing the very need it seizes to deliver.
Pre -informing Nigerians about anything seems to always be a sure way of undermining whatever results one should have realised from such a thing,especially when it’s a jaw dropping concept like a lockdown.
The idea of a national lockdown is not to afford those away from home the window opportunity to return home,the idea is to instantly force shut all forms of travels and confine everyone to where they are as at the time the lockdown is initiated.
What’s the use of a lockdown if, say a young undergraduate student in lagos who might be a non-symptom carrier of the virus gets the opportunity to rush-travel back home to his aged parents in Enugu simply because he heard that the lockdown would begin on a specific date and as such he needed to be home before the lockdown begins. Any benefit of a lockdown in this case is totally lost the instant the student makes that trip.
Here is why this should worry you.
A non-symptom carrier is a person who has the virus and is able to spread it but still shows no symptoms, or at least, is yet to show symptoms.
Knowing how the Nigerian transportation service is would make you realise that such an individual on a bus is simply a good agent for a rapid spreading mission. According to a March 16 study that was published on the journal “Science" , for every one diagnosed Covid-19 case, 5-10 other people are thought to be carrying the virus around and silently infecting others. As at the time of writing this, Nigeria has recorded a total of 85cases in few states( States like Imo and Delta are some of the few states that are yet to record any cases). If the journal report is anything to go by, this means that by the time the lockdown is initiated in 24hours,we could have over 810cases who maybe travelling on buses to their families and with the travel rush, these number could readily jump to 8,100 in few hours after the lockdown with a virality that is guaranteed to see us have a handful of cases in ALL states!
This is dangerous because not every state in Nigeria can truly boast of the response capacity of a state like Lagos,where the state government seems to be managing the situation well.
What should we do?
At the best, everyone needs to realise that at this moment, the world isn’t just ending and as such,the lockdown idea should not warrant feverish travels. Chances are that you are more at risk travelling than you are staying put at your current location. Secondly, your staying put may not just be for your salvation alone,it may also be for the sake of keeping your aged loved parents alive. Imagine not wanting to stay away from your parents and then you travel home only to go and infect them with the virus which you contracted while jumping buses to get home to them.
This thought was the only thing that kept me back from travelling home from my current location to my parents. It’s difficult, but when it’s a matter of survival, its safer to live safe in difficulty than dangerously risk life at the expense of not wanting difficult emotions.
The virus doesn’t move. If humans dont move,it wouldn’t.
All around me,I see many young people who are not taking any kind of social distancing precautions and are now all going home to their families simply because they do not want the lockdown to lock them outside their homes. For most of them,they erroneously believe that Covid-19 is a disease with an age affinity for the old alone. How wrong they are, maybe the these stats from an earlier CDC study on over 2,449 cases in the US would force a rethink in them;
- 20% of people hospitalised for Covid-19 were aged between 20 and 44
- 12% of those admitted to Intensive Care were between the ages of 20 and 44
- Nine deaths were reported in the under-65 age group
With the UK announcement that they have recorded the first death case due to Covid-19 of an 18years old who had no previous health issues, I think our youths need to take this issue more seriously.
This is bad news and I sincerely hope the government has plans for tackling what may follow.
Already, just hours to the lockdown,we are now begining to have cases emerge in states were they originally weren’t like Benue and Enugu and I only fear things might just get worse.
The government should immediately shutdown all interstate travel motor park stations and work together with social health and safety workers to find ways of delivering food materials to house holds during the lockdown period. They should immediately pay salaries and if possible initiate some social palliative fund programme to help citizens deal with this hard times.
We are at an unprecedented cross road and the only way of ever knowing what life after Covid-19 could mean or look like for our families and country is to first survive the NOW.
During the lockdown, please stay at home. Constantly call your family members,friends and loved ones more frequently to know how they are doing,this way,they knownyou are fine and you also keep a calm spirit. Remember to show special care and attention to the aged ones. Try to keep them away from discussions that could get them to begin thinking that somehow the world no longer wants them around. That feeling could break you.
Above all else, there is no need to panick-buying anything. Just stock up the essentials.
We shall all get through this times too.