The world including Nigeria is at war with coronavirus.
With coronavirus accelerating at an alarming rate in France, President Emmanuel Macron recently addressed the French nation with a call for mobilization. Before millions of television viewers, he looked directly into the camera and declared, “We are at war.” In 20 minutes, he said it six times. That is how serious this war is. The numbers are alarming and are increasing at an alarming rate.
At least 341, 000 people have contracted the novel coronavirus and over 14, 700 have died, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. This is even as world leaders are pleading with the public
to take seriously the directive to stay at home. As the virus continues its menacing march, leaders in democratic societies are begging their citizens to stay home and avoid gathering in groups, but many are not listening.
Back home in Nigeria where coronavirus is spreading despite efforts to
contain it, a check on Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) website as at yesterday, March 23, 2020, showed that the “Federal Ministry of Health has confirmed ten new cases of the coronavirus disease in Nigeria; three new cases in the Federal Capital Territory(FCT) and seven new
cases in Lagos State. This brings the total number of confirmed cases in Nigeria to twenty – two. NCDC at its website also showed that as at
the 21 st of March 2020, twenty – two cases have been confirmed, two cases have been discharged and there has been no death from COVID – 19 in Nigeria.” However as I
write information came that Nigeria has reported its first coronavirus – related death yesterday, the country ‘s Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said.
The patient was a 67 – year – old man, Suleiman Achimugu, former managing of the Petroleum Products Marketing Company(PPMC) who came back to Nigeria in March after undergoing medical treatment in the UK, the NCDC said in a tweet. He reportedly died 2 am on Monday (yesterday).
He had multiple underlying health conditions including cancer, diabetes and had been undergoing chemotherapy treatments, the statement from the agency said.
Leading the war against coronavirus in Nigeria, the National Emergency Operations Centre led by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control supported by partners continues to coordinate response activities and strengthen preparedness capacity across states nationwide. An intensive national risk communications campaign is ongoing to inform Nigerians about COVID – 19. The Federal Ministry of Health is also working closely with states and the Presidential Task Force on COVID -19 to review response activities and institute measures to protect the health of Nigerians.
According to the NCDC it is important that Nigerians strictly adhere to social distancing and other necessary precautions in place. These
measures include taking the following precautions; “Wash hands regularly with soap and water or use an alcohol – based sanitizer if no water and soap is available; Social distancing is crucial to
reducing the spread of COVID – 19 through; Use of no – touch greetings, Maintaining at least 2 metres (5 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing, Staying home if you
feel unwell with symptoms like fever, cough and difficulty in breathing. Immediately call NCDC’ s 24 / 7 toll – free number 0800 970 000 0010. Do not self – medicate, Avoiding / postponing events with
large gatherings of people including schools, workplaces, places of worship, crowded supermarkets and pharmacies, social and sporting events; Persons with a persistent cough or sneezing, should stay at home until they recover; Make sure you and people around you observe
hand and respiratory hygiene by; Covering your nose with tissue when
sneezing or coughing. Immediately dispose of tissue in a covered bin and wash your hands with soap and water. Use an alcohol – based sanitizer if no water and soap is available; Coughing or sneezing into
the sleeve of your bent elbow if no tissue is available; Avoid all non- essential travel to all countries.”
In line with NCDC’ s measures to curtail the spread of the virus, some other measures have been taken by the federal government including the closure of universities, colleges and other educational institutions.
Government has also shutdown the major airports including the train services all in the bid to stop the spread of the virus. Many state governments have also taken measures to curtail the gathering of people by closing schools and restricting social gathering.
The Lagos State government has also restricted religious and social gatherings to 20 people over the coronavirus outbreak.
The government made the announcement on Saturday, advising people to adhere strictly to the directive. The state government had banned
gatherings of over 50 people, explaining that it would be easier to trace that number of people if the need arises.
Similarly, the Federal Capital Territory Administration has directed that both public and private schools in the territory should be shut down until further notice as part of measures to prevent the outbreak of coronavirus in the territory. The FCT Administration also directed that social gatherings and worship centres should be restricted to
avoid large gatherings that could further endanger the health of others, stressing that shop owners who fail to provide hand sanitizers and other preventive measures should be closed down indefinitely.
We commend the efforts of the federal government, NCDC and state governments to curtail and contain the disease, but we are sad that some of us are disregarding the social distances measures and some worship centres are out rightly ignoring the directive of the state and federal government on social gathering. This is quite sad. We
should not use religiosity to endanger our lives and that of others by
disregarding the directives on social distancing.
If Saudi Arabia, Israel and Rome could curtail social gathering because of the coronavirus, why should a Nigerian Muslim or Christian resist the advise to maintain social distancing and avoid gathering of 20 persons for congregational prayers in Mosques and Churches?
Also at a time the country should be together facing the war against coronavirus, some people are still neck deep in politics. How does one
explain the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) declaration that it is worried over allegations of corruption in handling of the N1.3 trillion set aside to cushion the effect of COVID – 19 on the economy
? The PDP national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, claimed that the PDP is worried over allegations of corruption in handling of
the N1.3 trillion set aside to cushion the effect of COVID – 19 on the economy.
While this column will never support corruption, we think that this is not time to start playing politics in the midst of coronavirus war.
This war can only be won when we stick together irrespective of political, ethnic and religious differences and obey the directives by government and health experts.
Health experts say there is a road map to defeating the virus, but it requires discipline and near total cooperation from the public, including strict self – isolation. Regrettably, anecdotal evidence shows that not everyone is taking the warnings seriously. The consequences of failing to effectively combat the virus were evident
in grim scenes playing out day after day in Italy, where 5, 000 have died, and increasingly in Spain, with nearly 2, 000 deaths. Stay safe Nigerians, adhere strictly to the safety measures directed by NCDC and obey governmental directives aimed at defeating this deadly virus.