The recklessness that led to Plateau State’s index coronavirus case

Daily updates on newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the country have become as much a part of our lives as the certainty of day and night. The National Centre for Disease Control has remained consistent in that regard. As at 23:30 WAT, April 23rd, 2020, the centre reported an additional 108 new cases of the viral disease, bringing the total disquietingly closer to 4 digits, at 981. But this isn’t about that, unsettling as that is. This is about Plateau State which has just recorded its index Coronavirus case despite its best efforts.

The Plateau State Government had been proactive early on, by declaring a statewide lockdown it said it needed in order to accurately assess where it stands on the crisis and fumigate the whole city as a preventive measure. An impressive  move in comparison to the manner in which Kano, just a state away, responded to the knowledge of reported cases in neighbouring Kaduna state, with indifference. It is a bitter irony therefore that Plateau’s index case should arrive from Kano State.

#Plateau trended briefly partly to convey the consternation of mostly Plateau residents who have complied with the lockdown order in hopes that life would soon resume to normal, but also to chastise the government for the manner in which it handled the announcement of the index case.

The news was broken with an accompanying picture of the laboratory results, displaying the names and age of two diagnosed cases, one of which has a red imprinted ‘positive’ next to it.

It is likely as a comment under the same tweet said, that the leak came from unofficial sources through the laboratory. There is a grinding and understandable rage at why someone would risk introducing a virulent disease into a hitherto unaffected state.

Kano had been in a week-long lockdown which did not end with any measurable success considering that earlier in the week, while still in lockdown, the federal government had had to intervene in Kano by sealing a now contaminated testing centre, the only one in the state. The state has since been synonymized with a ticking time bomb smack in the middle of the heavily populated Northern Nigeria region, apt to explode at any moment unless carefully defused and quickly.

The patient 0 had traveled while the Kano state lockdown was still ongoing. The state had since relaxed the lockdown for a day to allow residents to shop in preparation for the just started Ramadan fast.

The logical question about the role of security operatives in enforcing the state border closures naturally arise.

The success of any disease containment measure is contingent on at the very least, some effort from neighbouring communities to not jeopardise the efforts of others, even if they themselves would not put in any efforts at all to safeguard themselves. It seems that Kano is doing the opposite of that. While the state sabotages its own efforts,  it appears lax in preventing any room for jeopardizing its neighbours far and near.

Perhaps the way out is in the wise answer of the Greek hero  Odysseus, who when asked, “What do you when you cannot make people who are key to your planning listen?” he answered, “That is easy, you make a plan in which they do not.”

Plateau State’s index case must have passed a handful of checkpoint at the very least prior to arriving in the serene hills-bordered plateau. Perhaps the person managed this feet

due to a valid travel reason, or because the security was not mandated to prevent interstate travel, or for some reason we may never know. Still it is gratifying that the Plateau state COVID-19 task force was able to not only contain and diagnose the threat, it stands as a testament to a planning that goes beyond what one can control.

Other neighbouring states in the Northern region must employ similar stringent tactics – immediately put under quarantine any interstate traveler and have them tested, profiled and put under enforced self-isolation – to prevent the region turning into a hotbed of the coronavirus pandemic in the country, that would like Italy result in mass death and the overwhelming of a health infrasture the region, much like the rest of the country, sorely lacks.

The Plateau state government has since announced an indefinite extension of its lockdown, this is in response to a collective decision made by governors from the 36 states of the federation plus the Federal Capital Territory FCT to enforce a 2 weeks nationwide lockdown, but also in a continued effort to keep the state COVID-19-free. We sure hope it works, Plateau could turn out to be our own story of success as Mauritania has been for the African continent.

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