COVID-19: WHY NIGERIA MUST AVOID AN OUTBREAK
Though Africa remains one of the regions with fewest cases of the corona virus infection, the number of countries affected have however increased in recent weeks, with Nigeria having recorded 27 cases as at the time this was being written. While 40 cases is still relatively low, and Lagos state reporting that they are still trying to trace about 1300 contacts, it is imperative that stakeholders should be wary of a possible outbreak, a situation it appears we are not adequately prepared for.
The economic impact of an outbreak could be devastating. In a country where SMEs contribute about 45% of its GDP, 96% of its businesses and 84% of employment, a total economic gridlock will be extremely detrimental. Imagine people staying at home for weeks and businesses shutting down, that’s an open letter to hunger as unemployment and poverty would increase. Although the Central Bank has since taken measures to buffer the situation, this effort would be ineffective in case of an outbreak and complete lock-down.
The deplorable state of the health facilities, which is evident of the lack of commitment of the government to the health sector is another reason why we must avoid an outbreak. Isolation centers are not adequately equipped, they are only set up to handle just few cases and from previous experiences, we know the government are not proactive enough to be on top of the situation. If countries with better health indices could be overwhelmed, then we need to desperately stop an outbreak.
Another important factor is that we Nigerians are a highly sentimental people. In the past few days I have heard different conjectures about the possible cause of the infection. The most rampant being that the infection is not in Nigeria, the cases are only being faked by the government as a means to collecting money as aids from the international community. I wouldn’t blame them, trust in government is at its lowest ebb in Nigeria, resulting from years of bad governance. A government not trusted might not be respected, which could mean that orders are flagrantly flouted. Moreover, lots of sentiments are driven by religious and cultural beliefs. Some infected might not declare themselves, resorting to self-medication, thereby infecting others.
We really need to curtail an outbreak of this nefarious disease by every means possible. This cannot be done by the government alone, we all need to be responsive in combating it.