By Omeiza Ajayi
One of the safety protocols against Covid-19 is avoiding handshakes and washing of hands regularly because, to some extent, Covid-19 could be in our hands. Also, the responsibility of taking the virus off our hands or even disallowing it from getting to our hands, also lies in our hands by virtue of the fact that individually and collectively, we have to make a conscious effort to respect all safety procedures to avoid contracting the virus.
As of 11:43pm on Friday, there were 594 new cases of COVID19 in Nigeria. The total confirmed cases were 22, 614 while 7, 822 had been successfully treated and discharged. There were 549 deaths. By that same time last week, there were 475 deaths, meaning that within one week, the nation recorded 74 deaths due to Covid-19.
For many Nigerians, these are just figures as they cannot put a face to any of the figures. But to the families of those who have lost loved ones to Covid-19 or who currently have relations undergoing treatment, the pandemic is real.
Yes, some countries are lucky to be dealing with only the Covid-19 Pandemic unlike in Nigeria where we have had the misfortune of dealing with clearly what is a Pandemic and what I will term a Scamdemic, perpetrated by opportunists who take delight in profiting off the misfortunes of others. These opportunists range from the manufacturers of fake hand sanitizers, those who recycle surgical face masks to even those in government who inflate contracts on medical supplies or even certify medical products that are below standard.
The cynicism with which citizens view anything coming from the government has also helped to fuel doubts in the minds of citizens regarding government’s handling of the pandemic.
The inconsistent claims by the World Health Organization WHO with regards to the use of face masks and the infectious nature or otherwise of asymptomatic persons have also made many to continue to puncture the existence of the virus.
Back home, the face off between some state governments especially Kogi and Cross River States and the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control NCDC also made many to conclude that there is a conspiracy of figures regarding the Pandemic. On its part, the refusal of the NCDC to open up on how it got samples from Kogi State which led it to declare three cases for the state did not also help matters. Cross River only yesterday rejected the one figure declared for them by the NCDC.
But what has cast more doubts in the minds of some Nigerians is purely ignorance. How for instance, does one query why some images of Covid-19 patients in some developed countries showed people on ventilators while the ones in Nigeria even had enough strength to embark on street demonstrations?
The truth is that while Covid-19 might not kill people en masse, it has the ability to infect a mass of people at the same time, thereby crippling a country’s healthcare system.
In spite of these high level of cynicism among Nigerians, the Presidential Taskforce PTF on Covid-19 headed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation SGF, Mr Boss Mustapha has continued to carry on without being discouraged. Though sometimes frustrated, as he rightly conceded, he said if it were within his powers, this is the right time to declare a lockdown. Unless we adhere to the rules, the implication of that statement is that we are going to have another lockdown pretty soon.
To a large extent, the government has tried to contain the spread of the virus but going forward, the responsibility of halting the wave of community transmission rests with the people.
It was therefore with utter consternation that Nigerians woke up to the news of a Naira Marley concert in Abuja penultimate weekend.
Assuming that the organizers were crass capitalists who wanted to make quick bucks through the concert, how about the residents of the area around the Jabi Lake Mall, venue of the concert? Couldn’t they have alerted relevant officials? But even more condemnable were the security agencies whose Operatives provided security cover for the event.
The work of the Taskforce and the media in the last three to four months respectively were rubbished within few hours of pleasure by revellers who thought more of themselves without sparing a thought for the nation.
The good news is that the Mall was sealed for two weeks while the Federal Capital Territory Administration FCTA vowed to bring to book all those involved in putting the event together.
The bad news however is that assuming without conceding that there was one person with the virus at the concert, there is a high possibility that many other people would have been cross-infected with the way the rules of social distancing and wearing of face masks were breached.
Like the SGF quoted Dr. B. Calinawagan the other day; “The War has shifted to the community and it is up to you. This cannot be won in the confines of the hospital.. We the healthcare workers are not your front liners any longer. We are your LAST LINE OF DEFENCE. You, my fellow people, are the front liners now”.
If these words do not resonate well with us in the light of the increasing number of infected persons each day, I do not know what will.
As we wash Covid-19 off our hands, let us not wash our hands off the battle against Covid-19, for in our hands lies the responsibility of restoring Nigeria’s epidemiological situation back to the days before February 24 when an unnamed Italian man brought the virus to our shores.