With a live update of the day to day count of recorded cases of Coronavirus in Nigeria that keeps steadily rising, it is beginning to appear that the growing panic in the country is more than justified. As if the rising official number – now at 35 with 1 recorded death – is not bad enough, what may constitute fear-mongering is cropping up everywhere faster than the rate of new infections.
A viral voice note has joined the list of panic-triggering content circulating the web.
Earlier last week when the Lagos State Government was announcing its 8th recorded case, the news was met with scepticism and speculations from the populace. Numbers as big as a 3000 potential contacts have been thrown around online off of the 8 officially reported case count. It is only a matter of time then that these numbers from unauthorized statisticians will swell and swell in due course.
Some of the messages in the viral voice note is one that reputable news outlets have hinted at for a while now that many governments, not just the Nigerian government, have been forced to under-report cases to mitigate panic, stigma, and in a worst-case scenario, increased crime.
But there is more to the voice note that is untrue, no matter how many times its author reiterated that he was not, “… going to say anything that is not true.”
For starters, the NCDC does have protective gear, and not one bought second-hand from China. Official numbers, if at all downplayed, cannot be downplayed to the extent the author of that voice note believes it is, as independent bodies are tracking the development of the pandemic across the globe since it became a global health crisis, and it is hard to imagine that all of these observers would collude to sell a wild lie to the public.
While the virus appears to have muted, there is an improved understanding of the workings of the virus since it began its then slow but steady spread from its ground zero, the Wuhan province.
So, no! 45 million Nigerians are unlikely to die from Covid-19, even if we allow for the fact of how abysmal our preparedness as a country is. But also, yes, we should be deeply concerned and very careful in these difficult times. Stay home, if you can, most importantly, stay safe.