COVID-19: Matters Arising

The greatest pandemic to have hit human kind is the Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19). The World Health Organisation (WHO) describes the disease as “an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered corona virus”. According to the global body, “the virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment,” adding that “older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness” capable of leading to their death.

The disease which was said to have first been noticed in the Wuhan District, China, has so far claimed over 29,532 lives, and 616,742 confirmed detected cases, according to the WHO Covid-19 Pandemic Report issued as at yesterday evening. The report also stated that the virus has so far been globally detected in 203 countries, areas or territories.

In Africa, statistical figure of the spread of the pandemic does not give any hope at all. It shows that the virus has spread to 46 countries with no less than 3,956 confirmed cases, only 248 recoveries and 111 deaths. South Africa, listed as the most affected country has 1,189 cases, followed by Egypt with 536 cases. Nigeria has 65 reported cases with one death, while Libya has the least reported cases of just one person.

A constant factor since the outbreak of the pandemic is that globally, the number of people affected are increasing by the day, while the efforts of scientists and expert medical personnel towards halting the disease seem not to be working out.

According to information made available by the WHO, since the outbreak of the disease, the global body has been “supporting African governments with early detection by providing thousands of COVID-19 testing kits to countries, training dozens of health workers and strengthening surveillance in communities”. From the data released by the body, 47 countries in the African region now have the training and capacity to test for COVID-19, in contrast with the situation at the outbreak when only two could do so.

WHO has equally issued “guidance to countries which is regularly updated to take into account the evolving situation”. The guidelines include measures such as quarantine, repatriations of citizens and preparedness at workplaces. “The Organization is also working with a network of experts to coordinate regional surveillance efforts, epidemiology, modelling, diagnostics, clinical care and treatment, and other ways to identify, manage the disease and limit widespread transmission”.

It also added that WHO “is providing remote support to affected countries on the use of electronic data tools, so national health authorities can better understand the outbreak in their countries”, work out the protocol on “preparedness and response to previous epidemics” and also “is providing a firm foundation for many African countries to tackle the spread of COVID-19”.

Importantly WHO through the various national health agencies is educating members of the public on the basic preventative measures through which individuals and communities can handle the risks of COVID-19 and put them through regarding what measures to take as well as steps in helping to counter disinformation and the parameters for setting up of Call Centres to ensure that members of the public are properly informed.

From the statistical data earlier stated, there is no doubt that the situation is disturbing. This is especially, with the fact that casualty figures have been increasing with every passing day in spite of efforts by the WHO and other international health-related research bodies, researchers, universities and several other research institutes to tame the pandemic.

This is the more reason why Nigerians need to pay particular attention to the advisory from the Federal and State Health Ministries, the National Center for Disease Control (NCDC) as well as health professionals on how to mitigate the casualty rate arising from this pandemic.

We at The AUTHORITY appreciate the efforts of the NCDC in curtailing the pandemic. We however note that some reports crippling in regarding the inability of NCDC to attend to reports sent to them, are not quite salutary. Although NCDC is not a super agency, efforts should be made by them to ensure that people who voluntarily report issues regarding such pandemic are promptly attended to or assisted to get to the nearest points where they could be tested and properly advised.

While the Federal Government is called upon to speed up efforts to setting up diagnostic centers across the country, they should follow the same speed in designating isolation centers and treatment centers nationwide. In addition, care should be taken to avoid the usual bureaucratic red tapism which often have led to the failure of processes in the country. Since President Muhamadu Buhari has graciously approved the release of N10 billion for Lagos State, equivalent amount should also be released to the remaining 35 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to put up facilities to handle the pandemic.

We call on our political leaders not to bring in their usual negative politics into this matter. Equitable distribution of resources, kits and drugs should be the watch word so as to prevent a situation where neglected states constitute a dangerous source for re-transmission of the disease. What we are emphasizing in effect is that the recourse to favour certain parts of the country against the other part in the distribution of money and amenities should not arise this time around.

Also, calls by Nigerians for the government to provide palliatives to the citizenry should not be basterdised on the alter or favouritism or politics. Fortunately, since the Federal Government has told the nation that it already has the account number of the poorest of the poor Nigerians through which it distributed billions of Naira during the general elections period in 2019, such data in addition to the data of Nigerians which can easily be obtained through the Biometric Verification Number (BVN) which are already available to the banks should be used to distribute whatever palliative government would approve in the end.

Issues of corona virus should not be associated with our brand of politics. It should also not be associated with our brand of quota system. It should be kept far away from our reward system. All the aforementioned parameters which always bred negative tendencies in the country should take the bank bench this time around.

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