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Covid-19: How prepared is Nigeria for second wave?

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covid-19:-how-prepared-is-nigeria-for-second-wave?

Emmanuel Oladesu

This rare year is coming to an end. But, the pestilence that is ravaging the world is not abating. Covid-19 pandemic is growing in leaps and bounds and claiming more victims. It is still threatening to swallow humanity.

Six countries in Europe have imposed lockdown, following the resurgence of cases. France, Israel, The Netherlands, Spain and Germany are in panic and pains. They have imposed movement restrictions in their key cities.

Covid is a universal headache. If it is curtailed in one country and it is ravaging another, no country is safe. Therefore, any country that is aloof to the global threat does it at it’s own risk.

Is Nigeria prepared for the second wave of the dreaded disease? Advanced countries that have been hit by the second wave are in deep grief. Social life is being dislocated again. Commercial activities are being shut down in major cities. The discovery of vaccines has neither allayed nor reduced the fear. Covid now seems to be the beginning of wisdom.

If big and buoyant countries are suffering under the yoke of the strange disease, which is not a respecter of title, class and distinction, should it not spur poor, underdeveloped or developing countries to take pre-emptive actions that will curtail its spread the second time?

If top government officials and statesmen are still catching cold and fretting in Europe and America over Covid, should leaders here be aloof and not take decisive steps as health experts build new scenarios about its prevalence?

While managing the casualties and other devastating effects, what efforts are Nigeria taking to prevent imported viruses, particularly now that the country has expanded its international airports?

Is it not profitable to take steps to avert what will make another lockdown compelling before the stark realities dawn on the economically fragile nation-state? Can Nigeria afford a second wave of Covid?

The country is still battling with the first wave. Now that the second wave has not come, although there are warnings, is prevention  not better than cure?

Covid hit Nigeria in February 27. Medical experts saw it coming. Yet, it met Nigeria unprepared. Perhaps, it could have been prevented by a proactive government. The empty boast by government that it was on top of the situation paled into lying. Although prevention is better than cure, Nigeria decided to settle for the later at a huge cost. The country paid dearly for its culture of negligence and the snail-like approarch to problem-solving.

On account of Covid, 2020 became a year of high mortality rate. Although the disease never discriminated between the rich and poor, the demise of eminent Nigerians, including the federal chief of staff, lawmakers, and other top government officials created anxiety. Many governors, who were infected, have bitter tales to tell. Other big shots who passed through the treatment procedure will never pray for a reoccurence. Affliction should never rise the second time.

The country was caught unawares. Ordinarily, the facilities used to curtail Ebola could have been useful. But, across many states, they were not maintained. The Covid challenge brought into the fore the vulnerability of the underfunded health sector.

The lone difference was Lagos, the epic centre, where the Incident Commander, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, mobilised health workers for the medical challenge. Isolation centres sprang up. Hospitals that released part of their premises or facilities for isolation centres were gripped by the fear of stigma.

However, the prediction by some concerned Western medical elite that corpes may litter the streets of Nigerian towns and cities never came into fulfilment because God averted the impending doom.

The Covid-19 protocol made adjustment more critical to survival. Schools and markets were closed. Worship centres were under lock and key. Mass gathering was prohibited.  Many organisations directed their workers to work from home. Hit by the accompanying economic challenges, some companies decided to downsize. Many workers in private firms lost their means of livelihood. Many households became poorer. Movements were restricted. Inter-state travelling were checked through curfew and border policing. Corpes spent longer time in mortuaries as postponement of funerals became inevitable. It appeared that everything was at a stand still

In public places, social distancing became the norm. Handwashing with soaps and the use of sanitisers is still a feature of life. Citizens appeared with various forms of face or nose masks.

Nigerians who returned from abroad were quarantined for two weeks. Vigilance was the watchword. The goal was to limit community infection or spread.

Since February 27, when the first case was recorded, Nigeria has not remained the same. It has recorded almost 70,000 cases and 1,154 deaths, according to the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control(NCDC). Mercifully, 59, 844 had recovered as at last month.

From 15 molecular laboratories, Nigeria now has 80 public health laboratories. Health workers have remained dedicated. Corporate bodies have been supportive of government’s efforts. But, the tempo of the fight should be sustained.

The sustenance framework should encompass improved testing, isolation, treatment, surveillance and vigilance.

A second wave portends grave implications. It will impact negatively on the economy and national wellbeing. As warned by Akin Abayomi, professor of Medicine and Lagos State Health Commissioner, the resurgence of cases is dangerous as it may led to the reversal of the strategic measures to revamp the economy. Budgetary projections may be truncated.

If there is a resurgence and government imposes a lockdown, it will be agonising. Also, there will be a new wave of palliative arrangements, palliative management and palliative politics.

Covid is not a native of Nigeria. It was imported. It entered the country through the airport. Therefore, to prevent the second wave, there should be vigilance and surveillance at the airports. But, if citizens do away with the preventive guidelines because the curve is flattening, it is risky because the virus has not been conquered. It can still spread. It is lamentable that despite the startling revelations and frightening statistics, many people still believe that Covid and its effects are a figment of imagination.

Combating Covid is a joint duty. As government plays it’s part, Nigerians should also take irresponsibility. It is in their own interest. They should, till further notice, continue to wear face masks, particularly in public places, keep social distancing, wash their hands with soap regularly and use hand sanitisers.

If all these preventive measures are strictly adhered to, may be, Nigeria can prevent the second wave.

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