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Managing the coronavirus pandemic — Nigeria’s next level

Managing the coronavirus pandemic — Nigeria’s next level
March 13
16:40 2020

It has to be stated that the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Federal Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Lagos State Government has done a commendable job of managing the COVID-19 pandemic so far. The efficiency of the procedures emplaced for managing the process is clearly contrapuntal to the general perception of even the most patriotic and fair-minded Nigerian. But, it is what it is: one index case and a second infection, who has even now turned negative from positive.

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This is a global record, by all standards, going by the terrifying statistics coming from otherwise advanced and more developed countries, where even top government officials are testing positive. The apparent lack of readiness of the authorities in those so called countries are daily broadcast on global television and accentuated by the double or multiple-speak of their leaders. In all of this, Nigeria has commendably proved effective and combat-ready to tackle the scourge.

That said, I am now a little bit concerned about the next levels (apologies to the ruling APC)-and by next levels I mean the “unlikely event” of a sudden upsurge. I say this because given the surprisingly (and still) poor management of the situation by European and American countries, we might experience an upsurge in Africa (especially Nigeria) since travellers from that part of the world are allowed to roam freely, literally. Someone was lamenting yesterday about a friend, a European, who arrived in Lagos Sunday after passing through four European countries unchecked! Although his friend is NOT sick, he wonders how many of such people are arriving the country everyday and mixing freely with people.

What if they manifest the infection days or weeks later? What if they infect a large number of people, will the NCDC and the Ministry of Health be prepared to deal with the situation? Do they have enough test kits which United States doesn’t seem to have? Do we have enough trained medical personnel to take on the challenge? Do we have enough facilities purpose-built or not-to accommodate people in quarantine? Do we have enough personnel and vehicle and other facilities to monitor and possibly evacuate those on self-isolation/quarantine? These are the salient questions bothering the hell out of me as well as other people.

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I saw the recent travel advisory detailing restrictions and other health measures. They are not bad at all, but they are definitely not the best. We might have to shut down for a week or two to watch how the rest of the world is responding to this tragedy. The cluelessness being demonstrated by the UK and the US especially is extremely worrisome and so we must make up our mind real quick about them. I also believe that public enlightenment should be stepped up. Many corporate organisations are doing a lot to educate and prepare their employees but the general public appear neither well-informed nor prepared.

There are too many rumours and fake news making the rounds. Scandalously, some so called Pastors have started making spurious claims about their ability to cover their blind follower with the blood of whatever (it can’t be that of Jesus Christ)! Some of these misleading and facetious narratives must be deliberately and expeditiously countered. Given that our propensity to pander to religious manipulation is second to none, the churches must be formally engaged, briefed and possibly mandated to not only comply with the hygiene protocols but to help in disseminating same to their congregants. This is truly very important and urgent.

Everyone’s commending Nigeria for responding swiftly and effectively. The contrary would have been a total disaster. Of course we learnt from the Ebola experience-and we learnt very well, in spite of the unfortunate loss of lives. I reckon the amazing Dr. Adadevoh (God rest her soul), her colleagues and others who died from Ebola were sacrificial lambs for the salvation of Nigeria from that scary scourge. We want no more losses. We can obviate it by being more prepared and more aware of Coronavirus.

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As they say, is not over until it is over. COVID-19 is not going to go away easily or simply disappear. So, we must NOT rest on our laurels. Awareness! Awareness!! Awareness!!! Preparation! Preparation!! Preparation!!! Caution! Caution!! Caution!!!

Oparah, vice-president Corporate Communications & CSR at Airtel Nigeria, writes from Lagos.

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