Since the outbreak of the first case of COVID-19 in February this year, the federal government has adopted various containment measures to contain the spread of the ravaging virus. The federal gov-ernment had imposed a lockdown for close to two months before easing some of the restrictions.
Instructively, the government introduced some non-pharmaceutical interventions, including washing of hands, social/physical distancing, use of face masks and use of hand sanitisers.
Till date, 55,456 cases have been confirmed in Nigeria, 43,334 cases have been discharged and 1,067 deaths have been recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. A total of 426,803 tests have been carried out as of September 8, 2020.
This newspaper however observes a total collapse of COVID-19 protocols and guidelines in recent weeks, and the reasons are not farfetched. The number of COVID-19 cases had been dropping rapidly, thus compelling Nigerians to labour under the delusion that indeed there is an end in sight for the pandemic and that Nigeria has already flattened the curve.
The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 did not mince words when it attributed the low cases recent-ly recorded to low testing capacity in the states. In most public places, markets and religious centers, the COVID-19 protocols are virtually non-existent. A sore point of such scenario is the ongoing political campaigns in Edo and Ondo States where there is observed zero COVID-19 protocols and guidelines.
In the considered opinion of this newspaper, we are definitely not out of the woods yet. Countries that have relaxed lockdown have experienced a second wave of the pandemic which in some cases was more devastating.
For instance, South Korea had a second wave of the pandemic after reopening of clubs and bars. They were however forced to re-close parks, museums and art galleries due to recorded additional cases. Iran had a sharp rise in infections having eased restrictions in April, while Beijing experienced an out-break linked to local food markets which resulted in the lockdown of 27 neighbourhoods.
New Zealand mobilised its defence force to oversee mandatory quarantine after an outbreak occurred shortly after the country declared it had eliminated the virus. Belgium, Italy and the United Kingdom started seeing a resurgence of the pandemic.
Sadly, the more people break the rules, protocols and guidelines, the greater the risk of resurgence of the pandemic in the country. The total disregard of the protocols in recent weeks is a pointer that there may be a resurgence of the virus in Nigeria.
We recall that the World Health Organisation (WHO) had warned that coronavirus may never fully dis-appear. What this means is that we may have to learn to live with the virus while the search for a vac-cine continues.
Regrettably, there is a widespread belief among the masses and some elites that the COVID-19 pan-demic is a scam and a means for some people to loot our common patrimony. This notion is attributed to the low number of deaths in the country and total disregard of the protocols by the elites. This is sad and worrisome.
Many reasons have been adduced for the low death rate of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country – from the prevalence of malaria to hot weather. However, most of these reasons have not been scien-tifically proven to be the reason for the low death rate in the country.
Consequently, we call on the federal and state governments to ensure stricter enforcement of the COVID-19 protocols in the country. Heavy fines should be handed to violators of the protocols as this will serve as a deterrent to future offenders. We insist that the COVID-19 pandemic is not yet over and the only strategy we have is containment.