The recent outbreak of coronavirus, officially known as Covid-19, in China is fast becoming a plague. The World Health Organisation (WHO) is worried about the pace at which the disease is spreading. According to official records, the deadly disease has killed close to 2,663 people around the world, with many more already down with the ailment.
From the moment the COVID-19 outbreak was reported in Wuhan province of that Asian country, a lot of commendable scientific efforts have been made to contain its manifestations by China and other countries like South Korea and Italy that are taking unprecedented hit from the virus.
In record time, China developed test kits for the virus and built a 1,000 bed hospital to prevent spread of the disease and to treat patients. The Chinese government has also worked on developing vaccines expected to prevent the disease and cure it when contacted.
Without gain saying it, COVID-19 outbreak is a major public health emergency that has spread so fast like a bush-fire in the harmattan. As it is at the moment, it seems coronavirus has caused the most extensive infection and is the most difficult to contain globally.
On a daily basis, there are reports of countries, including Nigeria, joining the club of nations with reported cases of the virus. WHO has continued to admonish countries on measures that can and should be taken to control the disease. The world health body has also assured that there is still a chance of containing coronavirus if robust action is taken to detect cases early, isolate and care for patients and trace contacts.
From reports, there seem to be an element of panic similar to what was experienced in the early days of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). The only difference is that it kills faster than AIDS.
It is from this perspective that an intensive public enlightenment campaign is on across the globe leading to cancellation of events that can attract large crowds and suspension of commercial flights.
More importantly, governments are educating their citizens on simple preventive measures that have to do with observing simple hygiene such as washing of hands. People are also advised to make themselves available for test when they experience symptoms like persistent fever. Most countries are tightening security at airports and quarantining passengers from endemic countries.
Nigeria seems to have lost the tremendous wit and verve with which it fought the Ebola outbreak, even as there is already a reported case in the country. It is for this reason that we, as a newspaper, are genuinely concerned. We, therefore, urge the federal government on the need to be proactive in the containment drive against the disease.
We call on the authorities to designate certain hospitals specifically for the disease, equip them adequately and embark on massive personnel training. The federal government should set aside funds for research on the virus and commission the development of vaccines that can be produced locally.
The situation as regards the outbreak of the disease calls for urgent, desperate measures. With the speed at which the disease is spreading, it is obvious that the world is indeed a global village. To that extent, it behoves countries like Nigeria with peripatetic citizenry to take extra care in designing a containment policy for the disease.
At the risk of sounding alarmist, this newspaper deems it right and within the limit of public expectations of us as a responsible organisation to warn that Nigeria is not giving the matter the serious attention it deserves. This, in our opinion, is one of those situations where fire brigade approach is not only desirable but also inevitable.