Anyone who actively follows the conversation around the government’s response on the Coronavirus pandemic must have been very confused by the events of yesterday. After weeks of arm chair analysis about the limitations and ineffectiveness of the government pronounced lock down on Abuja, Lagos and Ogun states, the original states to record Coronavirus cases, the government finally announced via a presidential speech that the lock down was being extended for one more week to May 4th before it would be strategically eased and replaced with a curfew. The response to this news was wide spread panic mongering, and a ton of jokes that trivialized the government’s efforts to find a balance between sustaining the country’s fragile economy and protecting the lives of its citizens.
One of the major tools that will be employed after the lock down is eased (it is not lifted completely, especially for regions that are experiencing spikes in infections) is a 8pm to 6am curfew. A curfew of this nature should ideally serve two causes. Nigerians tend to predominantly socialize at night. They become inebriated with alcohol and recreational drugs and become less vigilant about personal hygiene and social distancing. By instituting a curfew that makes it significantly harder for people to gather in large groups to socialize and fraternize, the government is gambling that this will work as a stop gap to slow the rate of infection while keeping the economy functional.
Also this easing of the lock down is not a permanent situation. The Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) and the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) are under no illusions about the work ahead and will advise the government to reinstitute total lock downs if there are unmanageable spikes in rates of infection. This is a model that many respected health professionals have suggested. Several levels of restrictions in response to levels of infection with total lock downs being the most extreme response to infection spikes.
The worry of Nigerians is understandable, the government has a history of corruption and mismanagement and global pandemic will not be lenient with Nigeria because its leaders are incompetent. But we must also take responsibility for our responses to the Coronavirus. If you can avoid going to work, then please do, take all personal precautions to reduce the spread and flatten the curve.