THOUGH Nigeria has fared much better than had been predicted, the Presidential Task Force on the COVID-19 pandemic, PTF, and the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, have continued to routinely warn of the possibility of another lockdown.
The government of Lagos State, which has carried the main burden of the pandemic caseloads in Nigeria, has also taken up this refrain. The State’s Ministry of Health on November 3, 2020 threatened another shutdown if cases continued to soar.
A snapshot picture of the overall pandemic situation between March 2020 when President Muhammadu Buhari and the governors imposed lockdowns and today when virtually all sectors of the economy have been reopened is a bit flattering. With albeit poor testing figure of 717,942 as at Tuesday, November 17, 2020, Nigeria has had 65,457 confirmed cases.
Also, 61,337 persons had been discharged while only 2,957 patients were still on admission at the isolation/care centres nationwide. Unfortunately, 1,163 precious lives have been lost. Lagos State retains the lion’s share of the pandemic with 22,562 total confirmed cases and 220 deaths. Daily new national infection figures hover around the hundreds and more. However, compared with the humongous figures from America, Europe and Asia, Nigeria and Africa have escaped the worst of this pandemic.
Given the deep injury that our economy has suffered from the lockdowns which came at the beginning of the planting season, we do not think our pandemic situation calls for a contemplation of another lockdown. We agree with President Buhari whose recent tweet warned that our economy cannot afford such.
The economy is barely breathing. The frailty visited upon it by the lockdowns was worsened by the looting, burning and destruction of businesses which followed in the wake of the #EndSARS protest.
The federal and state governments must mobilise and sensitise the citizenry to focus on our recovery efforts and the full restoration of law and order. We must concentrate on the rebuilding of damaged infrastructure and institutions for effective governance.
We must fight the food inflation which is threatening to strangulate the populace. Hunger virus is stalking the land, and the people are torn between high cost of living and worsening poverty.
In the wake of these, there is simply no room to contemplate an economic lockdown of any sort. Besides, the pandemic is no longer the big mystery that it was in March/April. We have lived with it, and we have not done badly. With several vaccines coming on stream, we are closer to victory than further from it.
However, we must continue to observe the pandemic rules such as hand-washing, wearing of masks in crowded places, social distancing, reporting symptoms to the authorities and sharing/caring as the new norms of social coexistence beyond the pandemic.