Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a contagious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome, coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).
The first known case was identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. The disease has since spread worldwide, leading to the globally ravaging pandemic.
COVID-19 pandemic was confirmed to have spread to Africa on February 14, 2020, with the first confirmed case announced in Egypt.
In sub-Saharan Africa, the first confirmed case of coronavirus was announced in Nigeria at the end of February 2020, in which within three months, the virus had spread throughout the continent.
In Nigeria, the federal government on February 27, 2020, confirmed a COVID-19 case in Lagos State, which was the first case to be reported in the country since the beginning of the outbreak in China in January 2020.
The government of Nigeria, through the Federal Ministry of Health, has been strengthening measures to ensure that the outbreak in the country is controlled and contained quickly.
“On September 20, 2021, COVID-19 claimed six persons in Nigeria and 393 additional new cases were reported by the NCDC from 15 states of the federation.
“The fatality toll in Nigeria has reached 2,661, while 190,901 cases were discharged, with the total number of 202,191 cases confirmed, out of the 2,997,060 sample tests taken across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory,” according to NCDC.
It added that Nigeria had received 5.18 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines, with over 1.58 million persons fully vaccinated, covering 0.8 per cent of the total number of the over 200 million population.
The story line in Sokoto is not in anyway different from the COVID-19 records in the country. The state has recorded a zero active case in more than five months.
The first confirmed case in Sokoto State was announced on Monday, April 20, 2020, by Gov. Aminu Tambuwal in a special broadcast to the citizens.
“Sokoto State has taken sample tests for COVID-19 of over 21,000 persons which yielded 796 persons with positive cases that include 768 discharged and 28 deaths,” according to the state COVID-19 response team.
Dr Auwal Ahmad-Musa, the Coordinator, Sokoto State COVID-19 Volunteer Programme, maintained that majority of the people in the state do believe on the existence of COVID-19, following the full engagement of the state government on sensitisation.
“We have done a lot of assignment in ensuring that all nooks and crannies of Sokoto State are covered with sensitisation on the effects of coronavirus, to ensure that people strictly adhere to the extant preventive measures.
“But, what is worrisome at the moment is that people of Sokoto State are not taking those preventive measures, most especially where we have a large gatherings, like in the markets, schools and congregational prayers,” he said.
On the people’s perception of the non existence of COVID-19 in Nigeria, Ahmad-Musa, said, “no matter how much you sensitise the people, some will never believe in your advocacy.
“Quite alright, some people believe that other infectious diseases like malaria, gastro-enteritis killed more people than COVID-19, but COVID-19 is deadlier than all of them, because it is transferable.
“However, the government is making a lot of efforts in preventing the people from all infections, by providing free treatment and drugs, as well as other necessary personal preventive equipment ( PPE).
“Therefore, I encourage the people to ensure those that are within the limit to be vaccinated for COVID-19 should go and take the vaccine,” he added.
He further called on the people of the state to continue to trust the government and the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) on their efforts towards ensuring a healthier society in Sokoto.
One of the COVID-19 victims, Mr Abdullah El-Kurebe, who shared his experience with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), said: “Misinformation and disinformation are the main reasons why people in Sokoto State think coronavirus does not exist.
“For me, I realised that I had contact with two persons who died of COVID-19, so on my own I decided to go for a test.
“Even though I was asymptomatic, I had no signs of COVID-19, but just to ensure that I didn’t infect my family and colleagues, I decided on my own to go for the test.
“However, after 24 hours, I was called upon by a Doctor who said I was COVID-19 positive and they requested me to be isolated,” he said.
El-Kurebe added that throughout his stay at the isolation center he had no symptoms of coronavirus.
“Thus, as a journalist, I had many experiences during my stay at the isolation center. I made some observations which helped me actually to know the workings of the virus itself.
“I found out that because it is a global issue and by implication Nigeria, in Sokoto State even the Doctors were apprehensive in the treatment of the virus.
“Health personnel generally were also not too disposed to us because they have the fear that they could be infected.
“However, after I was discharged, I realised that there are a lot of problems of misinformation and disinformation on the COVID-19 existence.
“This is because many people in the first place do not believe the virus exists, while others were misinformed that the virus was created to reduce the population in the world,” he added.
On the COVID-19 vaccine, he said that is the most worrisome problem in Sokoto state, because as a global pandemic one cannot say the virus does not exist.
“Vaccination against it is something that again because of the misinformation and disinformation the people are not taking it.
“I have taken may first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and in all the doses I took I have not felt any change in my system,” he said.
El-Kurebe further urged people who have experience of COVID-19 virus to continue to come out openly and speak to people on the effects of the virus and the need for them to take the vaccine.
Also speaking to NAN, Malam Bello Shehu, a trader at the Sokoto Central Market, said they believe on the existence of COVID-19 pandemic but, “we have the belief that only God can prevent his servant from becoming a victim.
“However, we have not taken the vaccine because of the information we received of some countries in the world rejecting it for its side effect.
“But I want to assure you that in the future if we are fully convinced that it has no negative effects in our health we will take it, because, even our religion has permitted us to take vaccines whenever there is a pandemic,” he said.
On the preventive measures, Shehu said that the traders are not using face masks or sanitizers in order not to be avoided, “because some customers when they see you with face mask, they will not come to you to buy.”
On his part, Malam Abubakar Wanzam, a traditional barber in Sokoto, told NAN that he has never believed in the existence of COVID-19 in Nigeria.
According to him, the story is the same on the existence of Laser Fever and Ebola which had come and gone.
“Our people in the rural areas are only concerned about security, to live peacefully, free from bandits and kidnappers not any more. We don’t have coronavirus, because we didn’t believe it ever exists,” he said.
On the fatality rate occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, Wanzam said that he believes the deaths are natural ones.
“This is because the people who lost their lives from gastro-enteritis and other disasters are much more in number than the number of death recorded for the said COVID-19,” he added. (NANFeatures)