Covid-19: Now that community transmission is here, what next?

By Hassan Zaggi

Few days ago, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, at the Presidential Task Force (PTF) media briefing subtly warn that Nigeria is gradually shifting to community transmission of the Covid-19.

His warning was premised on the fact that some of the confirmed cases have no history of contact with any known case and do not have history of travel out of the country.

He insisted that the development require the cooperation of Nigerians by adhering and supporting all measures put in place by the governments at all levels to prevent further spread of the disease.

Not many Nigerians understood what the Minister meant. This is most likely because, one; most people are ignorant of the enormity and gravity of the situation at hand. Others, especially, those from the lower class felt that it does not concern them as according to them ‘it is the disease of the elite’.

However, what happened in Kaduna two days ago showed clearly what the minister meant and the precarious situation we have found ourselves as a nation in the current war against Covid-19.

In a statement while announcing the 6th Covid-19 case in the state, the Kaduna State Commissioner for Health, Mrs Amina Baloni, said that it ‘’is a male who worked as a gateman in the Mando area and recently returned from Lagos.‘’

The most worrisome aspect of her statement was that he, “traveled to Kaduna on public transport and made contact with the authorities as his symptoms worsened.”

Mrs Baloni cried out that the latest case presented what she described as ‘nightmare scenario of possible community transmission of Covid-19 in the state.’

This, according to her, is because: “It is very difficult and complicated to trace the contacts of a patient who came from Lagos via public transport and had some instance of local commuting since his arrival.”

This is the beginning of our trouble.

The most traumatic aspect of this scenario is that it is not humanly possible to trace and tract the people this gateman has had contact with before his case was confirmed.

Recall he is not a high profile man whose movement is restricted due to status. On his arrival to Kaduna, he might have gone to many naming ceremonies, many congregational prayers and sat with many groups of people in what my northern brothers call ‘majilisa’ to discuss politics and global affairs.

Where he has entered before he was detected can be better imagined.

As it is now, hundreds of people might have contracted the disease through him because it is possible that those who had contact with him have travelled to several other states and also had contacts with many other people.

Now, Kano has recorded a case. As we all know, Kano is a very complicated place in many aspects. It has the population and also high number of less knowledgeable residents who could misinterpret and disregard any measure put in place by the government.

Way forward

With this complicated scenario, no state in the north should think it is free. It is possible that there are many undetected cases spread in many states of the federation. Therefore, Jigawa, Gombe, Nasarawa and all other states that are yet to record confirmed cases should better tighten their entry points to ensure people are restricted from having access to their states.

The state governments across the country must rejig their preventive strategies. This is not the time to slack. In fact, all interstate borders must be blocked and entry restricted.

This is the time for governments at all levels to take full advantage of their public sensitization organs to ensure residents are aware of the current situation.

The National Orientation Agency (NOA) need to trigger and mobilise its branches in all states and local governments areas. The local people need to understand the deadly nature of Covid-19 through their local languages. This is to get their support and buy-in to all measures put in place by the government.

This is the point where Nigerians need to show maximum cooperation and support to measures put in place by the government.

Most importantly, our people must obey all restriction orders of the government. We must also take cognizance of our personal hygiene.

Governors must be firm at this point. In fact, being autocratic within this period of ‘war’ can be fine. This is not the time to pamper the people in order to score cheap political points or achieve ‘political correctness.”

Most importantly, lets remain optimistic. From all ages, there has never been any challenge that ever remained unsurmountable. We can conquer this one, too.

Our medical experts have shown high level of expertise in managing our situation. We are going to overcome Covid-19.

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