By Stanley Onyekwere
There is no gainsaying that chief among the factors propelling the resurgence in the coronavirus pandemic, is the activities and assumptions that the virus does not pose a serious threat to our youthful population, resulting in an increase in the infection rate among young people, who are subsequently infecting older and more vulnerable family members.
According to health experts as well as the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 (PTF), the much dreaded second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is said to be a deadlier and more virulent strain of the virus is already claiming major casualties in the world.
In addition, another major cause of this second wave of the pandemic is the lack of compliance with non-pharmaceutical interventions – particularly the disregard for facial covering in public places, large gatherings at events linked to the yuletide season, as well as recent civil demonstrations.
Retrospectively, the Federal Government had warned Nigerians about the second wave of the pandemic, especially as the number of new COVID-19 cases continued to increase in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and other parts of the country. And recent epidemiology records confirm that Nigeria is now facing a rise in confirmed COVID-19 cases nationwide which is similar to the second wave of infections occurring in other countries across the world. In particular, Lagos, Kaduna and FCT have emerged as the new epicenter during this period, with over 70 percent of all confirmed cases.
As succinctly captured, Nigeria had recorded a total of 5,125 new cases of COVID-19 and 30 deaths within the first five days of 2021, which is an indication that the second wave of the virus is on the rise. According to statistics, the 5,125 new cases are higher than the total infections recorded in the country in the first 75 days of the virus last year.
Moreso, reliable data shows Nigeria recorded a total of 4,641 cases From February 27 to May 11, 2020 and the average daily death from the virus within the period was three as against the average of six daily recorded within the first five days of this year.
Consequently, notable Nigerians who have purportedly also succumbed to the more virulent strain of the virus include the former University of Lagos State Vice Chancellor, Professor Ibadapo Obe, the younger brother of the Lagos State Deputy Governor, Dr Haroun Hamzat, who died at just 37 years, after battling so hard to stay alive.
However, lifestyle choices like disregard for public health preventive measures such as hand washing hygiene and physical distance requirements have been identified as among major propellers of the pandemic. Also social gatherings involving large congregations from different parts of the country, and the world, at events such as weddings, religious activities, political rallies, conferences and end of year celebrations have also been blamed for the upsurge in the respiratory disease.
Interestingly, these events, classified globally as ‘supers-spreader events’, make the risk of a single infection causing a large outbreak among attendees significantly higher. Equally, the opening of the economy with progressive relaxation of restrictions in congregational areas such as places of worship, restaurants, bars, lounges, shopping and event centres is also not an exception.
By reason and experience, it is glaringly clear that Nigeria may be headed for another national lockdown, except a swift conscience reawakening especially among the youthful population is engineered, to reduce the spread of the virus.
Nonetheless, the youth are being encouraged to take personal responsibility to halt the spread of the virus and mitigate the negative consequences that another national lockdown could have on lives and livelihoods as was seen during the last time out.
Overtime, some of the guidelines that have been established by the NCDC, the PTF and other health experts as effective measures of containing the spread of the pandemic, include the wearing of face masks that cover the nose and mouth when in public settings, such as schools, weddings, burials, places of worship, market places, shopping malls, banking halls, event centres, motor parks etc
It is important also to always maintain physical distance of at least 2 metres (2 arm’s length) from others in public settings.
And other COVID-19 preventive measures include covering the mouth and nose properly with a tissue paper, or your elbow when sneezing and/or coughing and disposal of the tissue properly immediately after use. For elderly persons and other persons with medical conditions such as Hypertension, Diabetes, Asthma etc, they should equally avoid visitations and other unnecessary travels.
More importantly, the populace especially the youth must adhere to established safety interventions even as the world seeks to tackle the mortal dangers inherent in this new and more virulent strain of the corona virus, as these are necessary sacrifices that everyone must make now, so as to ensure that COVID-19 is not only effectively tamed, but eradicated from their midst .