Kenya 'headed for second wave of coronavirus'

By Rotimi Fasan,

Nearly a year and a half since Nigeria recorded her index case of the COVID-19 pandemic, the country is experiencing the third wave of the virus just when things appear to be returning to normal.

The second wave ended about three months ago, leaving Nigerians with the false hope we might have gone past the worst in spite of rising daily cases of the pandemic in other parts of the world. With the entry ports of the country fully opened, one wonders how Nigerians hoped they could continue to travel and still be able to keep the pandemic at bay. Things seem to be returning to where we were at the beginning of March last year when the daily figures of COVID-19 cases slowly but steadily rose, creating the panic that led to the eventual lock-down of the country.

Not only is the country at the beginning of its third wave of the disease that could now potentially lead the economy back into the heart of a stormy spell if a mismanaged national response takes the country down the slippery slope of another lock-down, but the very deadly so-called delta variant of the disease is also the star actor of this third wave drama. It is believed that this delta variant which defies a few of the vaccines out there and leaves infected persons with few or no symptoms, came in with home-bound Nigerian travellers, the usual suspect thought to have been responsible for spreading the virus further among the wider population after the index case was identified in the fourth week of February 2020.

ALSO READ: BREAKING: More suspects arrested over Super TV CEO’s murder

As I have had cause to say a number of times here in the past, Nigeria has been very lucky with the manner the COVID pandemic has manifested and spread in the country. While some groups and individuals in some states in the country have stepped up to confront the challenges presented by the pandemic, working hard to contain its spread in the face of very limited and the squandering of even the available resources, the general attitude of Nigerians to the pandemic has been less than casual. There were the early attempts to demonise people calling for an effective, coordinated approach to the management of the virus.

Many Nigerians, some of them influential religious figures, took their time spreading damnable conspiracy theories about the nature and existence of the virus. They gave religious explanations of and to a purely medical or scientific issue, urging their followers to ignore any call to be vaccinated under whatever guises. This is not the same thing as saying people should let down their guard considering how dangerous experiments have been conducted on unsuspecting others by scientists acting under the motivation of racist assumptions. It made sense to be careful.

People in parts of the Western world were also no less reluctant to take the jab, fallen for more dangerous variants of the conspiracy theories that had been spawned around the development of vaccines. In America, for example, Donald Trump did all he could to peddle dangerous myths about the pandemic and the measures put in place to manage it, including something as innocuous as wearing face masks. Some people, somehow, went out of their way to court the pandemic, doing everything in their power to flour regulatory measures aimed at halting its spread in Nigeria as elsewhere. Government slowly established control over the situation at home, putting in place and enforcing, even if feebly, some of the measures it had no choice but to promulgate.

ALSO READ: Gunmen abduct traditional ruler in Kogi

Far from the apocalyptic picture of death and decay projected by Western groups and individuals, however, Nigeria and most parts of Africa have survived the more devastating ravages of the pandemic. This is not as a result of any serious effort on our part, although as I have said, some people and organisations have been very effective and generous in their handling of the pandemic. Government too has been proactive in a few instances while some have seen the pandemic as yet another way to feather nests economically.

But for the most part, it appears God has just elected to spare the poorer parts of the world like parts of Africa south of the Sahara the crushing weight of what could have easily turned out to be a disaster of unimaginable proportions. We are not free yet. South Africa has borne the brunt of the pandemic in Africa and thank God for its relative prosperity and development in Africa, it has been able to contain it, perhaps in a way far better than most other countries on the continent could have managed. Even at that, the overall devastation and fatality rate of the pandemic in South Africa has been far less than the worst-hit countries of the Americas and Europe.

In Nigeria, the official fatality figure is less than three thousand. While it is reasonable to think that the actual figure must be much higher, given the general failure at accurate testing and contact tracing among other steps taken to stem the spread of the virus, the fact, based on impression and informed guesses, still remains that the COVID-19 pandemic has left Nigeria and other parts of Africa relatively unhurt. Save for that very scary moment last year, when there was a steep rise in reports of deaths that could not be put to any known ailment except COVID-19 in places like Kano and a few other parts of the country, the situation has remained pretty much what it had been. But the figures are again rising in Lagos as in other places.

Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Lagos governor, says the test positivity rate which stood at 1.1% in June 2021 has risen to 6.6% in the first week of July. The isolation centres are again witnessing a steep rise in the number of people checking in. In a state where only about one per cent of the entire population have received the vaccines for the pandemic, there is every reason to be worried. The state government has taken the lead in Nigeria to combat the spread of the virus. Given Nigeria’s overt dependence on outside help for vaccines, halting the spread of the virus by controlling community transmission and ensuring that travellers into the country are mandatorily tested and quarantined remains the best option.

Which is why measures put in place should not only be strengthened and rigorously enforced, defaulters should be made to face tough sanctions. The idea of people absconding from isolation or quarantine centres is dangerous and unacceptable. Now is the time for Nigerians to start acting, observing safety protocols of wearing face masks, washing their hands and using hand sanitisers among others. This is for us, not the government. The COVID pandemic must not gain a foothold in Nigeria again.

Vanguard News Nigeria

Subscribe to our youtube channel

Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.