Folks, this is indeed a very difficult period for mankind. Across the globe Covid-19 continues to ravage many countries, with different level of casualties but growing level of infection. One by one, our partners are shutting down to protect their citizens. In a similar vein, the attendant economic impact is being tackled with massive injection of public funds, with Nigeria not being left behind in this area.
It is comforting to know that just like during the Ebola period, our medical personnel have performed admirably well and we should be very proud of them. The Italian commonly referred to as the index case has successfully recovered and now tests negative. We hope the rest of the identified infected people will recover soon. Our limited capability to test and treat the infected people virus is a cause for concern so the government needs to respond to this with a sense of urgency.
The action of the Federal government in shutting our international airports though belated is welcomed. This was long overdue as we know this disease is being brought into the country by incoming travellers. Suspension of schools and other places of large concentration of people is also a move in the right direction. Lagos State has set the ball rolling by asking Civil Servants from Grade Level 12 and above to stay at home, quickly followed by Kwara State. However, we need to do more.
There is no reason why we should not trigger a partial shutdown by locking down our major cities particularly the State Capitals. As the virus gradually travels round the country, the danger increases. We are naturally very intimate people and with no curtailment of freedom of travel, we are creating a wider infection landscape. One wonders what could have happened if we had shut our borders since the beginning of the month. In our densely populated areas, the impact of infection going viral is frightening. It will be foolhardy to believe the 30 cases discovered so far is all we have so far. Countries at similar levels four weeks ago has seen a geometric explosion in infection hence we need to act now!!
If we lockdown all our State Capitals for the next 14 days, hopefully we can detect and lock in infected people and prevent them from infecting others. China has proved how effective shutdown and isolation can be, so we should be brave enough to proactively embark on this painful measure, but it has to be done.
Community and religious leaders must be mobilised to appeal to the people to be cooperative and supportive of each other, Our social structure can support the pain and sacrifice needed for two weeks, the bigger gain must remain in focus. State Governors can design palliative programs and organise State agencies to ensure food supplies doesn’t run too low and the police should be fully mobilised to ensure law and order.
At present, we only have five Centres capable of treating infected Covid-19 patients – two in Lagos, one in Abuja, one in Edo and one in Ede. It is important that the government quickly sets up additional centres in at least each of the six geopolitical zones by converting any suitable facility. One hopes the government has already taken steps to order essential supplies and mobilise the professionals needed to be treating infected people like ventilators, Doctors and Nurses that are in short supply globally and create a special corridor for distributing them to the State capitals.