If the rumours are true, the presidency, under advice from the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) and the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) is considering extending the mandated lock down in Lagos, Abuja and Ogun states, the three states in the nation with the highest cases of the Coronavirus. Lagos state is on track to cross 100 diagnosed cases, a number that is only this low because the government has been unable to effectively organize mass testing for the nearly 6000 people who have been exposed to the virus from the 288 people diagnosed thus far.
The enforced lock down has been marginally useful, by forcing businesses to work remotely, it has eased pressure on our transportation system and reduced the possibility of mass infections. But it has also exposed the class inequalities in the system, the corruption of our public officials and the value we place on human life. Teenagers have been shot to death in Kaduna for ‘violating’ curfews, police bribery is rife at check points and some people with non-essential jobs are still able to navigate with minimal difficulty. There is widespread flouting of the rules around the lock down, people are not self isolating, and compounding issues are the conspiracy theories around the arrival of Chinese doctors to join the fight against the Coronavirus, religious leaders endorsing conspiracy theories with their massive platforms and everyone under the sun suddenly realising they desperately want to be fitness experts.
While the government has taken some measures to enforce its directives for social distancing, the people are getting restless and the pressure from this agitation is working. The pressure on the government is working. Several states (Kano, Rivers) have announced they are relaxing social restrictions to allow the religious faithful celebrate their significant events in their religious calendars. Bearing in Mind Singapore’s biggest Coronavirus outbreak happened because one sick woman who attended a religious gathering, there is a genuine cause for worry.
In the Spirit of Easter therefore, and after a careful review of the state of COVID 19 situation in our State, we have decided to temporarily relax the restriction on large religious gathering, as follows:#Covid_19 #Broadcast pic.twitter.com/jTB1VKiM07
— Gov N E Wike Information. (@GovWike) April 9, 2020
We are on the cusp of an outbreak that will kill thousands of people, and unless the government is incredibly strict with how it monitors these religious gatherings, we are going to end up with disease clusters on our hands which will overwhelm our isolation centers and spread. So unless you all behave yourselves next week, we will see the lock down re-enforced and extended for the foreseeable future.
Please Nigerians, for once, behave yourselves.