CORONAVIRUS IN NIGERIA: THE THEN AND NOW.

The year 2020 is a year the world would like to forget. No one would pray to witness such a year riddled with coronavirus and so many uncertainties twice in a lifetime. Lives were lost, nations plummeted into recession and neighbors lost confidence in one another because the virus can be transmitted even through an asymptomatic person. The world was held at a standstill.

Nigeria was not exempted from this worldwide chaos, when the first COVID ’19 case was recorded in Lagos on February 27, 2020, the whole nation was in a panic because the Nigerian health sector at the time lacked the necessary equipment and funds to combat the virus. This fear was aggravated when the widespread began in some states with Lagos as the epicentre. This prompted the government to declare a total lockdown in April 2020.

Every night, Nigerians waited on the daily reports from the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). The daily report, popularly called “live scores” by Nigerians contains the number of confirmed cases, discharge and death per state and is posted on social media and in print through our local newspapers.  As deemed fit, state governments at one point or another also made certain changes to ensure safety and everyone complied in the quest to preserve their lives.

However, over a period of time, many no longer see the need to follow the COVID’19 guidelines and have returned to living care-free lives. Hands were no longer frequently wished as possible, social distancing is not maintained and nose masks are only used to gain entrance to places that mandate their use or to prevent arrest by the law enforcement agencies.

These carefree attitudes by most Nigerians are probably due to three major problems. The majority of the people now see the daily report by NCDC as nothing but an inflated set of numbers cooked up to get bail-outs from the federal governments by some states. While it is undeniable that coronavirus does exist in Nigeria, they believe the daily report exaggerates the actual number of reported cases. Some now even claim that the coronavirus no longer exists in Nigeria!

Moreover, the majority of the Nigerian population feed themselves with returns from daily labour. The street hawkers, retailers, public transport drivers, and hired labourers to mention a few depend on their daily returns to fend for themselves and their families. Many of these people in a quest to make more money to put their lives and that of others at risk of the menacing virus.

However, we need to understand that prevention is better than cure and that the tale of coronavirus is best told by those who have lost their loved ones to the virus or had it at one time or another. As much as possible, we should stop endangering our lives and the lives of others through our lackadaisical actions. Until the World Health Organization declares Nigeria COVID’19 free, we still need to abide by the COVID’19 protocols.   

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