The #StayAtHomeChallenge is just another ‘joke’ to Nigerians

As the number of Covid-19 cases rises daily, one is left to wonder if the coronavirus is going to stay longer than the human nervous system can take. Anxiety is probably the most common mental illness these past few weeks, and with a robust media – who will glorify bad news over good news – we are not yet done seeing the reportage of deaths, every other hour. 

This is quite sad and unfortunate. #CoronaVirusUpdate #FightCOVID19 #StayAtHomeChallenge

— Natasha Akpoti (@NatashaAkpoti) March 19, 2020

Let’s do a summary.  

Pneumonia of unknown cause was detected in Wuhan, China was first reported to the WHO Country Office in China on December 31, 2019. The outbreak was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on January 30, 2020. On March 11, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared COVID-19, the disease caused by a coronavirus that is new to human beings, a pandemic. 

Many cases – and deaths and recoveries – were reported in other continents except Africa. Scientists began to ask if black-skinned humans were naturally immune to the virus, and laughs were shared. Kenya reported its first case, and it’s more than worrisome how it is going now. The question switched to: is Africa ready for a pandemic of this magnitude?  

As Africa has been asked to brace up, many organizations and individuals all around the worlhave highlighted how to prevent the virus and report if anyone – or yourself – show symptoms. But are we taking precautions?  

If you take a walk in any Nigerian state, you will hardly notice anyone who looks like they believe the coronavirus is in town. People still shake hands; rigorously. Still rub their faces; romantically. They still refuse to wash their hands as often as possible. And have started taking to heart curative measures shared on WhatsApp and Facebook. Hardly is anyone using an effective face-mask. No one wears a protective-hand mask either, amongst other preventive materials. 

It never happened that someone convinced a group of Northerners that the coronavirus is deadly and is fast spreading. “E no dey Nigeria. Na lie dem dey lie. Even if e dey, we don see how we go take cure am.” How? “Person don share one medicine on top Facebook.” It’s not a Northerner phenomenon, it is a Nigerian disease.  

No, don’t be surprised. This is Nigeria where people believed and thought bathing with salt will prevent – or cure Ebola 

Interestingly, we don’t have suspect pastors preaching that “with the Lord in the Highest Heavens, nothing can happen to us.” So, that one problem is solved. But, how do we convince people that the #StayAtHomeChallenge is not something to play with? How do we start telling them that the trend is just another way of self-isolating and only go out when it is necessary?  

On March 18, 2020, five new cases of COVID-19 were recorded in NigeriaA total of 68 people have been screened for COVID-19 in nine states: Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, FCT, Lagos, Ogun, Rivers, Kano, and Yobe52 have tested negative, the result is pending for eight, while seven were confirmed positive. One has recovered and was left to go home on March 13, 2020.  

It doesn’t stop increasing, and while we want to believe that we don’t have too many people with the virus walking about the highways, taking buses and trains and flights with other people, we will want to avoid it altogether. So, stay at home!  

Just like we played and joked around the #10YearChallenge but took it seriously, going into archives and dusting old pictures, it will be beneficial to people who want to live longer than they are now to take precautionary measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus.  

No doubt staying at home in Nigeria and working from home is almost impossible. Not especially when power is epileptic and average Nigerians can hardly afford Cable TV or unlimited internet subscriptions.  

What this means is that most of our work is done inside an office space. We still have graduates who do not understand the meaning of ‘work from home’ because they have never been afforded the opportunity. And companies – who could afford to give their employees the ‘playtime’ still insist on ‘work from office’. We still live in medieval times and until 100,000 deaths are recorded before we begin to take some things into consideration.  

It’s a collective effort: the government needs to provide the infrastructure so we go out less often. Network providers can do well to reduce rates. Supermarkets can introduce a delivery service. E-hailing services can reduce tariffs, so more people use their services instead of going headlong into attracting the coronavirus by using ‘danfo’ and populated taxis. This list is non-exhaustive.  

But guys, guys, if we can, let’s consider the #StayAtHomeChallenge as a serious matter and play around it, still as a serious matter.  

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