By Tayo Ogunbiyi
THE World Health Organisation, WHO, has declared that countries in Europe and America are already experiencing the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and urged governments of different countries to put structures in place to curb the virus.
In Nigeria, the country is beginning to experience a surge in COVID-19 cases. More than 2,000 cases were recorded between November and mid-December last year. This, experts said, might require an enforcement of citizen’s compliance to COVID-19 protocols. The Federal Government has warned that the country stands the risk of not just losing the gains from the hard work of the last nine months, but also of losing the precious lives of her citizens.
Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Mr. Boss Mustapha, gave the warning during a recent COVID-19 briefing in Abuja. He said that COVID-19 is threatening humanity and the progress made in the global health sector in the last five decades or more, especially with the resurgence of the disease and the spikes in the number of global infections.
Represented by the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, Mustapha noted that current realities point to the fact that the course of further opening up of the economy may have to be reviewed. Consequently, health experts said further negligence to COVID-19 protocols of social distancing, regular hand washing with soap, use of alcohol-based hand sanitiser, avoiding large gatherings may spell doom for the health sector in the country.
In a recent statement he personally signed, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, disclosed that the state is recording an increase in COVID-19 cases in all local governments. According to him, this is not peculiar to Lagos alone, as he said the entire country is also seeing an uptick in the numbers of confirmed cases of the Coronavirus disease.
He said: “Of every 100 tests that we now perform, an average of 10 turn out to be positive. This is an increase from the five per hundred recorded in September 2020, but lower than our peak in August of the same year which was between 20 and 30 per hundred. This suggests the existence of active community transmission, and represents the very likely possibility of the emergence of a second wave in Lagos State”.
Similarly, Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Professor Akin Abayomi, in a recent statement raised the alarm about recent spike in cases of COVID-19 in the country, urging residents to be cautious. “We are seeing a slightly increasing number of COVID-19 positive cases in clusters in Lagos and all Lagosians should adhere to the prescribed advisories of safe distancing, good hand and respiratory hygiene and avoidance of unnecessary gatherings,” Abayomi noted.
Also, Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, brought the matter before the House during plenary on Tuesday, December 15, urging Lagosians to abide by all COVID-19 precautionary protocols. He said: “There is a current surge in global cases of COVID-19. We urge our people to be careful. This is not the time to throw caution to the wind. From every indication, we are yet to get out of the woods”.
Similarly, the Team Lead, Infection Prevention Control Pillar, IPCP, Lagos State Ministry of Health, Dr. Oluwatosin Ijimakinwa, has identified Nigeria as one of the countries that stands a high risk of experiencing a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic if standard precautionary measures are not put in place. Dr. Ijimakinwa, who made this assertion at a training organised for clinical staff at the General Hospital, Ijede, Lagos, urged health workers to get ready for a tough battle ahead.
Logically, the steady rise in cases of COVID-19 in the country should give everyone a cause for worry. The need to put up a common front against the spread of the deadly virus can, thus, not be over-emphasised. It is quite ironic that many still regard the evil virus a hoax, claiming it is not a Black man’s ailment. Ignorantly, many have equally labelled it a rich man’s pandemic.
In some parts of the country, people still congregate without regard to the social distancing rule. Even in places where sufficient enlightenment campaigns are ongoing, many still carry on with business as usual.
This is the time for our compatriots to take personal responsibility. The virus is real and it is no respecter of persons. Therefore, folks must shun all forms of large gathering, and even stay at home, where necessary. This is the most effective way to break the circle of transmission, as it has worked very well in other places.
Similarly, all states in the country must effectively collaborate with the Federal Government in the fight against this lethal but invincible adversary. As it has been observed in a few cases, this is not the time for needless politicking. The enemy we are up against does not recognise partisan gulf or any such divisive platforms.
Choosing to play politics at this crucial time would be highly insensitive and counterproductive. Therefore, we must set aside every discordant tendency, no matter how cogent, and stand together in this hour of crisis.
If we can stick together against the noisome pestilence, with a common vision and goal, victory is surely in sight. The enemy that confronts us knows no language. It knows no tribe. It knows no political affiliation. Neither does religion mean anything to it. It has no respect for neither the rich nor the poor. More technologically and economically advanced nations of the world are cringing under the lethal blows of this unseen foe.
Government will continue to do its best, but the ultimate responsibility for our safety lies in our hands. We are still in the middle of a pandemic, if we continue with this ‘I don’t care’ attitude, we will not only hurt our nation, but our families too.
Taking personal responsibility is our duty; we have to change our orientation. The time to take responsibility is now! Wear your facemask appropriately. It is not a chin mask! Adhere to social distancing rules, wash hands regularly and keep to all safety guidelines.
According to history, the Spanish flu of 1918 claimed many lives in the first wave, but as soon as the lockdown was relaxed people began to gather again, hug, shake hands and before they realised it the second wave claimed ten times more people.
To prevent a spike in COVID-19 cases and forestall our healthcare system being overwhelmed, we all need to take responsibility and follow strictly hygiene practices. We should not frustrate government’s effort in containing the virus. Let us all take responsibility for keeping everyone safe.
As in the case of Ebola, this tough time shall also pass. As Governor Sanwo-Olu, the COVID-19 Incident Commander of Lagos State, rightly affirmed: “We have overcome more challenging situations in the past, and we shall surely surmount this also”. But then, we must be willing to observe all precautionary measures put in place by the appropriate authorities to curtail the spread of the pandemic.