Nigeria, like many other countries around the world, has been fighting the Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) for several months now. The Nigeria Center for Disease and Control (NCDC) confirmed the first case in the country in February 2020. They reported that an Italian citizen who works in Lagos state brought it first into the country. Other people with foreign travel history subsequently added to the numbers. Since then, the number of infections have risen to reports of over 47,000 as at August 11th 2020.
The virus originated in Wuhan, China late December 2019. Soon afterwards, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared it a pandemic in March 2020. This necessitated governments around the world to start taking measures by having compulsory lock downs, including Nigeria.
The Existence of COVID-19 in Nigeria
In Nigeria nobody expected the corona virus pandemic to turn things upside down or change their plans. But the pandemic hit so hard that some business had to shut down, schools had to close, religious worship centres, markets, pubs, event centers and places that attracts crowd were shutdown.
For a country like Nigeria, where many people depend on daily survival for their income, a lot of economic and financial impact was felt, perhaps much more than the health impact. This, probably, became the reason for the initial denial by some citizens concerning the existence of Covid-19 in Nigeria.
Today, many people believe that Covid-19 is in Nigeria, but they are of the opinion that the numbers are being over exaggerated. Some feel the virus hasn’t gotten round the 36 states of Nigeria, whiles others feel its a global health challenge that is everywhere.
In an attempt to explore more on what Nigerians think and how they coped during the Covid-19 pandemic lock down, Medtrend Health spoke with a few individual’s from different parts of the country who shared their thoughts and experiences.
Thoughts on COVID-19
Months have passed since the lock downs were lifted in the country, allowing Nigerians to return to their work and businesses under regulated conditions. Religious and social gatherings have also been strictly regulated by certain guidelines of operation.
People had different opinions about Covid-19 at the beginning of the pandemic. However, responses from Nigerians show that most people believe the existence and danger the corona virus still holds today.
Miss Maryjane Obieguo, a resident of Kaduna State, commented on how she took the news of the corona virus pandemic in the country. “This virus is a deadly virus ravaging lives and creating fear in the Nation. Although we’ve witnessed other virus and diseases take lives in the nation, but this sinister of a virus is more deadly. We hear from medical professionals that it is a person to person communicable virus, and so we should practice social distance, wear mask and wash our hands to prevent it. That’s what I have been doing, because when it comes to issues of health, we know our medical professionals know better than we do,” she said.
One resident of Lagos State, which is the epicenter of Covid-19 cases in Nigeria, further commented, “It’s a global challenge. We had some cases in our facility that resulted in it’s shutting down for a week, but beyond that it’s been okay“, says Mr. Abdulmutalib Abdulazeez, a medical lab scientist in one of the hospitals in Lagos.
Miss Prima Angyu, a resident of Taraba State added that, “It is a very deadly virus, hence the need to strictly abide by the measures adopted by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control. You don’t wait to be a victim before taking action to ensure that we protect ourselves, as well as our loved ones against this dreaded pandemic.” “I have been surviving through the small income I make from my business”, she added.
Likewise, Miss Joy Ogbe, from the FCT Abuja, contributed that, “I think the virus exists and might not be eliminated anytime soon because it is dependent on how every country manage it, and most African countries are not doing a good job. The virus pandemic has had financial implications for me. I have had to reduce my spending and figure out more sources of income.”
What More Needs to be Done?
All hands must be on deck to win the fight against Covid-19 in the country. Government and civil societies continue to propagate public awareness on the roles of the citizens in the fight against Covid-19 through adherence to the guidelines provided by the health experts.
Likewise, responses from Nigerians reveal that they also have a lot of expectations on what the Nigerian government needs to do more in this fight. “Government should increase monitoring and tracing of confirmed cases and ensure pro-activeness in future occurrences“, says Mr. Abdulazeez.
“I think the government should come up with better strategies to enforce the precautions they’ve come up with so that we can contain the virus quickly“, added Miss Joy Ogbe.
Since the spread of the corona virus pandemic hit the country, the federal and states governments have progressively worked to increase the testing capacity for the virus. Some citizens still think these efforts are not enough. “The government should open more testing centres precisely in every state and train health workers extensively on how to manage infected cases. Government should also ensure that they provide adequate ventilators”, says Miss Prima Agyu.
Others remarked on the concern that the Covid-19 figures might have been exaggerated and called for more transparency in that regard. Miss Felicia Samson, a resident of Port Harcourt cautioned, “Government should not joke with the virus and also with the number of cases. I think they should start giving us more details on what happens in the isolation centers like how the patients survive, how test are being done and results are gotten.”
Miss Obieguo further added, “I would say the government is doing its best already. My advice on how government should handle the situation would be that the government should be careful in the way they exaggerate figures of victims and death. Fear can kill faster than diseases or virus. So the government should be careful in the way they handle figures related to Covid-19.
An Uncertain Future
Globally, the race for the corona virus vaccine is still on with many governments and corporations investing lots of money into research. This is in addition to the search for a cure, or at least, an effective treatment for the disease which has had several controversies since the beginning of the pandemic.
Even with the lock downs being lifted for people to return to their livelihoods, and socio-economic activities picking up around the world, cases seem to be increasing, defying all the measures put in place. Some countries are also putting the lock downs back again. This has left many with an uncertain outlook of what the future will be.
People still hope for an effective cure, treatment and successful formulation of vaccines. But until then, things remain uncertain, and much expectations are on the health scientist and experts.
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