Yesterday, the NCDC didn’t release official figures for Coronavirus cases till well after midnight on 20th. Since Nigeria started monitoring the Coronavirus crisis, the NCDC has never missed an update. This anomaly, is cause for worry.
Nigerians everywhere have had an eventful weekend. First on Friday, the federal government announced unceremoniously via several of its spokespersons that Mallam Abba Kyari, the Chief-Of-Staff to President Buhari has passed to Coronavirus complications. Considering the Coronavirus is often deadlier in older persons, few believed Kyari would survive without assistance from outside Nigeria, but it still came as a surprise to Nigerians. Some celebrated his demise and others lamented their personal relationships with him. What was not in contention however, was that issues faced by the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) and the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) could be directly linked to a personal squabble between Kyari and the Dr. Isaac Adewole, then the minister of health in 2018 which led the federal ministry of health being stripped of its power to procure medical equipment without the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture.
Eighty-six new cases of #COVID19 have been reported;
70 in Lagos
7 in FCT
3 in Katsina
3 in Akwa Ibom
1 in Jigawa
1 in Bauchi
1 in Borno
As at 11:50 pm 19th April there are 627 confirmed cases of #COVID19 reported in Nigeria.
Deaths: 21 pic.twitter.com/7gsnusWRow
— NCDC (@NCDCgov) April 19, 2020
Actions like this have consequences, as evidenced by the low rate of testing from the health teams assigned to monitor the spread of the virus. It also leads to the fiasco witnessed on Saturday as Mallam Abba Kyari was buried according to Islamic rites. Nearly 100 Nigerians, most of them high profile politicians and civil servants, violated curfew to attend the funeral, disposed of their PPE’s poorly with no means of sanitation for themselves post disposal. The NCDC has said it has recommended isolation for everyone exposed but we know that goes.
Also, the NCDC did something uncharacteristic. They let a whole day pass before announcing the daily stats for the virus. Yesterday’s numbers signalled an astronomical jump in detections, with 70 people diagnosed with the virus in Lagos state alone. Those kind of numbers suggest that the virus has begun to manifest beyond the purview of the NCDC and the real battle is about to begin.
Few things are clear, the lock down will most likely be extended to mid-May. The NCDC needs more help in diagnosing cases and providing monitoring and isolation, and perhaps, Melinda Gates’s predictions might yet come true.
If there was ever a time to adhere to the NCDC’s directives, it is now.