THE latest rules for the gradual ease of the coronavirus pandemic lockdown simply show that Nigeria, like most countries around the world, has reached the stage where irrespective of our inability to arrest the rate of infections, we must gradually return to our normal life.
Boss Mustapha, Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, on Monday, June 29, 2020, announced what he called a “safe reopening” of schools. Primary Six, Junior Secondary School-1, JSS1 and Senior Secondary School-3, SSS3 students are to return to the classrooms to complete their transitional exams. Nothing was said about how the gap this will create between them and the lower classes will be tackled.
The rest of the educational system and places of worship will remain closed. Also, the ban on interstate movements has been lifted though it never really worked since it was imposed at the end of March this year. Our policemen and other security agencies mandated to prevent the interstate movements by the federal and state governments largely failed in their duty, thereby enabling the early onset of community and inter-regional transfer of infections.
Domestic flights are to resume. That is good news for the upper levels of society which have taken an unusual beating from the lockdowns. Travel reopening means good business for the hotel and hospitality industry.
The economy is gradually coming back to life, even though the improvement in our testing capacity has continued to expose a ballooning infection rate.
As of June 29, 2020, Nigeria had recorded 25,133 confirmed cases out of 132,303 tests. While 9,402 patients were successfully treated and discharged, 573 deaths were recorded.
The peak is obviously still over the distant horizon. The progressive easing of the lockdown will worsen matters, more so as our people have grown increasingly careless in the matters of social distancing and the correct wearing of facemasks.
Government cannot be blamed for opting to further the ease of lockdown. This COVID-19 experience has shown how dehumanising the very idea of shackling people and denying them their right to movement and association is. It is not something that should be imposed on people without adequate legal and constitutional justification, such as commission of crime, security threats and the outbreaks of infectious diseases.
Living with COVID-19 has now become a reality of life and living. While governments continue to strive within their constitutional mandates to save lives and protect people from the outbreak, we the people must continue to take responsibilities for our safety and that of our family members and neighbours.
The social distancing rules, the need to continue washing our hands with soap under running water, the use of face masks, hand sanitisers and proper respiratory etiquette in the public must become part of us. Let’s stay safe.