By Isaac Asabor
When in the month of April this year, Dr. Gregory Poland, a Mayo Clinic expert expressed concerns about second wave of COVID-19, one may not be wrong to opine that his advice was not heeded in this part of the world, particularly as he raised his concerns in faraway USA. It is not an exaggeration to say that ignoring health warning on Covid-19 issued by reputable health experts in faraway countries is unarguably erroneous and inadvisable as the impact of the pandemic is on global environment, and which invariably includes Nigeria as a constituent of the global community.
Poland’s fear then was hinged on the fact that as States looked toward beginning to reopen their economies, there could be possible second wave of Covid-19 that may emerge later in the year and make for an even more dire health crisis.
Ostensibly buttressing his view, Poland said, “This is an area where, as somebody who studies these viruses and as a vaccinologist, I have grave concerns. When you think about this COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S., it started in mid to late February, so we were in fact past our influenza epidemic. It’s unlikely that will happen this fall. Rather, we will have, in an overlapping fashion, influenza epidemics and COVID-19 recurrence occurring.
One problem with that potential scenario, he says, is that the symptoms of the flu and COVID-19 overlap nearly exactly.
“The second (concern) is the tremendous surge in demand on the medical system, and the third will be the anxiety around that. Do we really close everything down again and do what we’ve just been through over the last several months?”
“What’s really going to be key is to encourage everybody of 6 months of age and older, which is the national recommendation, to get a flu vaccine and in this case to get it as early as it’s available, not wait until December and January.”
In the same vein, both health experts and their likes have been warning before now that it could just be a matter of no distant time before the second coming of covid-19 will once again take us by surprise as it did early in the year. They warned that if it happened as speculated that it would surely bite us even harder and more devastating. The apprehension been exuded by health experts cannot in any way be misconstrued to be unjustified as the dreaded second wave of covid-19 has already commenced across Europe and the U.S.
At this juncture it is shocking to disclose in this context that the second coming of covid-19 is already here in Nigeria as media reports in the last few days and Statement recently issued by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) are factual and reliable enough to arrive at the conclusion that covid-19 is here again for the second time.
For instance, media report in the recent times has it that the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, has gone into self-isolation after some family members and senior government officials close to him tested positive for Covid-19. Also the same vein, the Commissioner for Health, Lagos State, Akin Abayomi on December 11, 2020 disclosed that the State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu will go into self-isolation immediately after one of his close aides tested positive for COVID-19 on December 10.
In a similar vein, NCDC in its Public Health Advisory Statement, following increase in number of Covid-19 cases in Nigeria disclosed that the Centre has recorded an increase in the number of coronavirus disease (Covid-19), and explained that the public health advisory provides an update on the current situation, response activities and recommends measures to reduce the risk of spread in the country.
On the epidemiological situation, NCDC says as of the 10th of December 2020, just over 71,000 confirmed cases and 1,190 deaths have been reported across 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
It added that “Since the beginning of September to the end of November 2020, Nigeria has recorded a gradual increase in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country. However, in the last week (30th of November to the 6th of December) our surveillance system has recorded a sharp increase in cases. The average number of daily cases recorded in the last week was higher than were recorded between September – November”.
Unknowingly to millions of Nigerians, the nation has not moved past the worst of the coronavirus as they erroneously thought. Worse still, not few Nigerians believe that the virus is “real and potent” as most of them have being seen arguing on that.
Despite what we all faced early in the year when the economy was locked down with attendant socio-economic consequences which we all suffered in the form of job losses, rise in domestic violence and health emergencies coupled with biting hunger, it appears we have not learnt any lesson that will compel us to fearfully observe all covid-19 protocols.
Or what else can one say when most Nigerians at bus stops, markets and other public places are seen letting their guards down as hands are no longer washed often, facemasks no longer adorned by them even as mass gatherings are no longer a problem while parties, weddings and even protests are organized with little or no thought on the consequences of the pandemic.
At this juncture, it is expedient to ask, “Are Nigerians prepared for the second coming of Covid-19?” The foregoing question, which is invariably the title of this piece has its answer in the following analytical views.
It is not hyperbolical to opine that millions of Nigerians are not prepared for the second coming of covid-19 even as the cases are increasing across the country. It is equally not an exaggeration to say that not few Nigerians are letting their guard down as far as the covid-19 pandemic is concerned. For us to be seen as prepared for the second coming of covid-19, it is expedient we begin to adhere to important public health measures.
To see us as being prepared to ward off the second coming of covid-19, it is expedient for those that have deep pockets among us to limit all non-essential domestic and international travels. This is especially important for intending travelers to countries recording a high number of Covid-19 cases.
In the same vein, it is essential we wear face mask that covers the nose and mouth frequently when in public settings, such as marketplace, office, schools, religious settings etc. Similarly, we should always ensure we maintain physical distance of at least 2 meters from others in public settings even as we should make it a habit to frequently wash our hands with soap and water or use a hand sanitizer when hands are not visibly dirty and running water is not readily available.
In the same nexus, we should always avoid direct contact with people, particularly through hugging and handshaking. Not done with the foregoing safety tips, we should always cover our mouth and nose properly with a tissue paper, or elbow when sneezing and/or coughing, and in that light dispose the tissue properly, immediately after use and wash our hands.
The foregoing, though just few among other tips, when strictly observed, will no doubt go a long way in keeping anyone safe from the deadly pandemic, and it is only then can one be considered to be prepared for the second coming of Covid-19.
Isaac Asabor is a Public Affairs Analyst.