The scare and panic over the raging Coronavirus has reached alarming heights in Nigeria.
After we went to bed on (what may pass as one of the weirdest) Sundays in Nigerian history, following arguments for and against Christians going to Church to safeguard their health spiritually, amidst government regulations restricting same in Lagos and the Federal Capital Territory, we all woke up Monday to a public announcement by former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar that his son had tested positive to coronavirus.
This day didn’t also didn’t go without three hard-to-swallow pills: The death of 67-year-old Suleiman Achimugu, a former Managing Director of Pipeline and Product Marketing Company (PPMC) who returned home following medical treatment in the United Kingdom; the spread of the virus to Edo State and the announcement of self-isolation for Bauchi Governor, Bala Mohammed because he had shook hands with Abubakar’s son earlier in the week at the airport.
As the country slowly approaches the 30-day period since the index case of the virus was announced, the rate of spread has tripled and according to current figures by the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) which puts the statistics at 36 confirmed cases (Lagos- 25 FCT- 6 Ogun- 2 Ekiti- 1 Oyo- 1 Edo- 1); it will only take drastic measures for the virus to be curtailed. If there any lessons to learn from the current global hotspot of the virus; Italy – its confirmed cases rose from 30 to over 50,000 in 30 days due to negligence, similar with the United States whose case rose from 30 to over 30,000 and in every of its 50 states within the same time frame. Nigeria isn’t even as organised as these countries!
The Lagos Government has announced a ban of public gatherings of more than 20, ordered 75% of the public workforce to sit at home, announced a no-standing in public buses order. But just like a Twitter user, @aproko_doctor rightly captured: “You can wash your hands, Sanitize your hands, Wipe your house with antiseptics. You can avoid gatherings, Be very VERY careful AND then someone close to you doesn’t do all these things, gets the virus and give it to you. It’s not just you. Everyone needs to have sense.” A lockdown is now inevitable.
For an unbelieving populace who either believe that it is only an avenue by their distrustful leaders to loot money or that their God deserves to be put to test by disregarding basic health precautions, the time to enforce a sit-at-home restriction backed by law in the two major cities with the highest cases – Lagos and Abuja has come.
Sadly, sources of livelihood will be affected, the economy will bleed and hunger will prevail in many homes where the breadwinners are self-employed and are below the poverty line. Still, do we accept hunger and impending recession or allow the spread of the virus that we may all perish? I choose the former.
Shut this ark for 14 days!
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Temidayo Taiwo-Sidiq is a Political Journalist, Analyst and Social Change Advocate with major interest in Nigerian Politics, Governance and Sports.