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Published On: Mon, Jun 29th, 2020

Covid-19: Time to change response strategies

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By Babangida Bashir Umar

I’m beginning to be cynical about the authorities regulating the lockdown; TVs, print, and social media are unduly scaring Nigerians out of their peace and comforts. I know there are individuals who benefit from the COVID-19 situation but nothing lasts forever and people will soon realize what the government is doing to them.
The federal government through the NCDC and presidential task force on COVID-19 had set up guidelines to prevent the spread of the novel disease. The guidelines have so far been respected by Nigerian citizens. Despite the approaches to prevent the spread of the virus, cases are increasing every day. As a consequence, lockdowns are continually extended. Something is wrong along the line. All we keep on seeing is daunting updates on social media contrary to what we see from those countries that are seriously affected.
Before I delve into the main topic I would like to Categorically remind us without prejudice that the disease has a low mortality rate of about 1% and that we have more devastating and life claiming diseases like malaria with a very high mortality rate (1-3 million death yearly) that unfortunately could not get the attention of the government as COVID-19 does. When you bring cases of banditry, maternal mortality, cholera, pneumonia, and road traffic accidents into calculations then you’d be dealing with big figures that would shock you. We also have come to realize that most mortalities of patients infected with the virus are due to other co-morbidities.
There are many factors that decide the course of disease and outcome. Using a simple analogy to describe the pandemic, the same virus is affecting the entire world but death tolls are different claiming thousands of lives in some countries and hundreds In other countries. In Nigeria, the disease has claimed about 500 lives with United States deaths skyrocketing to about 180000.
Furthermore, the European countries have better healthcare facilities than our dear African countries and one would expect that because of this death tolls and disease spread would be higher in the African countries. That’s to say that COVID-19 like SARS is somehow not a disease that should prompt countries like Nigeria to go on lockdown closing schools, banks, religious institutions that keep on sabotaging the economy.
We have other problems worst than COVID-19 and yet we have forgotten them simply because they don’t have an interest in the international society like COVID-19. I think we should focus on what interests an average Nigerian.
The government should be sincere enough to explain why its opening markets, offices, other places of gathering, and Interstate roads leaving out schools. This has made lives more difficult for people than the disease itself. This is clinically seen in major groups of Nigerians like the private school teachers and other average Nigerians that feed from hand to mouth.
We need to design our own strategies and formulate our own roadmaps. We should allow America, Italy, Brazil, China, Turkey to continue their lockdown without copying them but rather we should have our own strategy. We have our own peculiarities and problems like other infectious and non-infectious diseases, RTA, banditry, and domestic violence.
To keep it simple we don’t have to go on lockdown frustrating the lives of our citizens. It can be done by observing simple health measures in our places of gathering and other institutions like washing our hands regularly, wearing facemasks in crowded places, and observing social distancing of at least 2 meters, However lockdown and shutting down institutions is not a good way.
I’m beginning to be cynical about the authorities regulating the lockdown; TVs, print, and social media are unduly scaring Nigerians out of their peace and comforts. I know there are individuals who benefit from the COVID-19 situation but nothing lasts forever and people will soon realize what the government is doing to them.
Only time will tell. Covid-19 is real! Let’s learn to live with it. It doesn’t have to become something else.
Babangida Bashir Umar is a Public Affairs Analyst.

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