We cannot sacrifice poor people in our fight to curb the Coronavirus pandemic

Corona virus

Yesterday, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced it was upgrading its classification of the Coronavirus as a pandemic. It has spread to over 60 countries, touching lives in every continent and has infected more than 100,000 people. The disease has had an outsize impact in Europe, especially in Italy where 12,000 people have been infected in 2 months and several hundred have died since the epidemic began. To the surprise of the West, Africa has been largely spared in the spread of the virus, with less than 100 infections on the continent. There are many reasons for this, fewer flights to the continent, pre-existing class based segregation that keeps upper middle class and rich people who visit disease prone regions from poorer people. But those class lines might not be enough to keep Africa free of the disease.

Many are afraid that if the pandemic spreads properly into Africa, its nascent healthcare system will be overwhelmed and millions will die. Nigeria, the first Sub-saharan country to record a Covid-19 case has shown exemplary leadership in how it has responded to the crisis, successfully quarantining the first case, mapping out a contact map of all the persons who came in contact with patient zero and track subsequent cases. It is important that the government continues to take leadership of the situation, challenging any attempts to cause mass panic. It is also important that the government has promoted hygiene, rather than quarantine as a precaution to reduce the spread of the virus. It is also important that preventive measures take into consideration the reality that Nigeria is predominantly a poor nation.


International news platforms like the Telegraph have begun to advocate solutions like shutting down public transportation as a way to halt the spread of the disease. This is a solution that is classist as best as too many Nigerians depend on public transportation and daily wages to survive. Any disruption of this delicate balance will lead to deaths from starvation or preventable disease like Malaria so solutions like this must be thoroughly investigated before they are considered.

Solutions proferred must be available to all people, regardless of their social class or financial standing.


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