•Says: It has traced 2,395 persons out of 2,649
•352 contacts exited 14 days isolation period
•Nigeria going the way of Italy, Spain
By Sola Ogundipe & Chioma Obinna
Amidst fears by health watchers and close observers that Nigeria may be going the way of Italy and Spain that have suffered high casualties from corona virus disease, COVID-19 that is ravaging the global community, the Lagos State Government raised an alarm yesterday that 39,000 cases of the disease may be recorded in the state going by the number of cases already imported into the country.
Lagos State commissioner for health, Prof Akin Abayomi, who disclosed this at a press conference in Lagos said that the State Government was tracing 2,649 persons out of which 2,395 persons have been reached. He also said not less than 352 contacts have exited the 14 days of isolation period.
Abayomi who was reviewing how the State has fared so far in terms of numbers said: “Our mathematical modelling shows that the worst-case scenario is that we may see up to 39,000 cases in Lagos.”
He added that if everyone practices good social distancing, the figure could be limited to 13,000.
“If we add social distancing to active contact tracing, then we will be able to bend the curve further,” he said, noting that the figures were small, compared to outbreaks around the world.
“The figures may seem alarming at this point, but this is just to emphasise to the Lagos community to follow instructions of the incident commander to make sure that we practice social distancing.
“Looking at the same time frame from the introduction of the index case, you can see that Lagos State is not seen anywhere near what Spain, Italy and Iran are showing.
Still giving details of the data already generated, he explained that “at two or three weeks of our index case, we are flat and at week four, we have 37 cases; while at the same fourth week, Italy, Iran and Spain had more than 20,000 cases. So, we are doing something right in the state,”
He said the state government would be interestingly watching the data over the next week.
“The total number of cases we have now in the centre is 37 and six remain in the ship. We will be finding ways to evacuate them. Also, 70 percent of the patients are male and 30 percent are female, one infant, and a young person under 30 years. We have above age 60 years too.
Again, 82 percent of the cases are imported and 14 percent are direct contact, while we have no idea where 2 percent contacted it from.
The fear that projections are higher than the official figures was based from the fact that many tests are not being done in Nigeria.
Nigeria going the way of US, Italy, Spain
CHINA has largely contained the coronavirus, but the pathogen has embarked on a global odyssey with devastating epidemics in the United States of America, Italy and Spain. Currently, the US has overtaken China as the country with the most cases of COVID-19 in the world. For the first time since the outbreak, Italy recorded a coronavirus total death toll that is almost triple that of China. Also, the death toll from COVID-19 in Spain has also overtaken that of China of late.
One thing that the US, Italy, and Spain have in common is inadequate preparedness that is amplified by the absence of putting proactive containment measures in place early enough.
A similar scenario is playing out in Nigeria that health watchers say may be involuntarily following the same path of the three aforementioned countries.
With 65 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 1 death as of 27th March, Nigeria is listed among countries with the lowest number of coronavirus infections, but this development hardly elicits cheer. But Health watchers and close observers including the World Health Organisation, WHO, have expressed concerns that these figures did not reflect reality.
With only five test centers available to over 200 million population, there are arguments that Nigeria is not realistically carrying out enough tests to detect the coronavirus. Coupled with the weak healthcare system, denial attitude and general complacency, the nation is generally seen as unprepared to tackle the pandemic.
As of 1 pm on 27th March, the US had more confirmed cases of coronavirus than any other country. It had more than 85,600 positive tests. Many hospitals in New York, Washington, and other American cities were overwhelmed with thousands of active cases of the disease.
Figures by the Johns Hopkins University showed that the US displaced China with 81,782 cases to second place and Italy (80,589) into third. For COVID-19-related fatalities, the US, however, was behind Italy (8,215), Spain (4,365) and China (3,292).
There were arguments that the US was a late starter to containing the deadly virus and this lapse has largely contributed to the country’s dire situation.
The US wasn’t ready. Americans were routinely warned that they could someday be among the hardest hit by the new coronavirus outbreak. They were cautioned that their 330 million population was a vast pool of vulnerable people to the COVID-19 menace.
But series of failures, indifference, missteps and lost opportunities contributed to what was largely considered a flawed response by the US.
Long before the American index case was recorded, there was a failure to take the pandemic seriously. A generally leisurely approach was adopted, but it failed to provide broad-based testing capacity for the coronavirus, like China and many other countries in Europe and Asia had done.
Even when it became obvious that a crisis was imminent, the US remained largely unprepared. There was a shortage of everything from testing kits, testing centers, face masks to PPEs and critical equipment such as medical ventilators.
No country has been as hard hit by COVID-19 as Italy where the world’s attention has now shifted as the new center of contagion. There have been deaths in Italy, the Bergamo area has suffered more than most.
On Wednesday 25th March, the number of deaths in Spain rose by 738 in 24 hours to 3,434, higher than the 683 announced in Italy. It was a daily record. By comparison, China officially reported 3,285 deaths, while Italy – the worst affected country – had 6,820.
By every measure, all these countries had ample time to prepare for the COVID-19 pandemic. But they were complacent. They turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to the warnings, and now, are playing catch up to the rampaging COVID-19 pandemic.
There was general apathy implementing a robust testing and surveillance mechanism at the beginning when it mattered most. The public health systems were soon overwhelmed. And the strains on strong health care systems — with protective vital equipment in desperately short supply — underscored the possible tragedy in developing nations. Healthcare workers are being infected alarmingly, accounting for more than 10 percent of cases. As the toll on doctors in Italy continues to grow, so does the hope of quick containment diminish. More than 550,000 people around the world have now contracted the deadly coronavirus, overwhelming healthcare systems, and threatening economies.
In the view of WHO Envoy, Dr Samba Sow, in Africa generally, the population needs to be more worried.
“If you want to win a situation, you have to quickly be willing to worry about your population. Once you start to worry you will take it seriously. It happened in Europe. People were not taking this seriously.”