A virus of any kind is no joke. Just ask an epidemiologist. And when it comes as lethal as Coronavirus (COVID-19), it definitely takes away all sense of humour, not even a wry smiles can be afforded. But as scary as it is, there is a possibility of the virus spreading to any country. Once passengers’ air flights still operate between Nigeria and the Countries already battling with the dreaded Coronavirus (COVID-19) disease, once the nationals or those who have lived in those countries for upwards of one month can still enter Nigeria freely, without adequate border checks, the Country’s doors, I believe, are wide open for the lethal disease.
The incident of this past week is a pointer. The conflicting reports that surfaced on the lethal Coronavirus (COVID-19) disease in Nigeria are quite worrisome. There were two conflicting reports. The first was that the dreaded Virus disease had sneaked into Nigeria, West Africa, via an Italian national, who consults for the Lafarge Cement, Ogun State, South West. But before the dust raised by the statement issued by Professor Akin Abayomi, the Health Commissioner, Lagos State and the back-up by his Ogun State’s counterpart, Dr Tomi Coker, another report surfaced quoting BBC as saying the disease’s index case has tested negative on a second test. All welcome. But more needed to be done.
This time around, this Virus may not be easily contained as the Lagos State Government, under Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola, with the active assistance of the Federal Government tackled the Ebola case in 2014. The swiftness with which Governor Raji Fashola’s administration mobilized all resources, built structures, and gathered the medical team, in and out of the government structure, was a key factor in the curtailing the Ebola scourge.
This case of Coronavirus (COVID-19), may not be as easily managed as was the Ebola Virus’s case in the year 2014. That national heroine, Dr. Stella Adedavoh had single-handedly done the better part of the job by offering to sacrifice her life to save the whole Nation. She had physically prevented the index patient, Mr Sawyer, a Liberian, from bolting out of the Hospital. Still, not a few lives were lost to the scourge. The commitments of the government at the time, the medical team and even some outsiders who were consulted were pivotal in flushing out the Virus from our shores. One should believe that the structure Fashola used to combat Ebola is still there, that there is still the medical personnel on the ground, and that the necessary administrative inputs shall be available, to block the spread of the Coronavirus from entering the country.
One is not expecting a similar scenario with the Ebola case of 2014, nor a repeat of the Dr Adedavoh heroics incident, as it happens. But the fact is that prevailing circumstances in the country today make this Coronavirus alarm scarier. The Italian national, who was said to have arrived in the Country via a Turkish Airlines, moved to a Hotel, also visited a brother in IKoyi, all in Lagos, then later to Lafarge Cement plants in Ewekoro, Ogun State. The contacts between the two gateway States may be more than the figures quoted to have been quarantined. But work should start from numbers already profiled.
Another danger to cope with now is the one pose by the recklessness of social media. Just as the confusion gripped authorities in Lagos and Ogun, a message someone quoted to have emanated from a national television station was shared round. The message was about how the driver who took the Italian to Ewekoro from Ikoyi bolted from being quarantined. And that he was asking for a ransom payment of some one hundred million naira less he would start moving from state to state, town to town, village to village spreading the scourge. What nonsense!
If he’s truly infected, and if what I read online on this Virus is to be believed, then under a few days he would have become weak, drained off all energies and helpless. He will only end up destroying his family and close persons. But then, such a piece of reckless information needn’t be put on social media.
The truth is that not all infected persons go on to develop the killer disease. Some will feel the symptoms and it will go away. Some will responds to treatments and some, most naturally, will die.
While the rest of the World, led proudly the State of Isreal, the battle is on to find medical solutions to this Virus, also our social media has been posting all forms of prayers who ‘it is not our portion’. If this is a joke, I think, we should better stop it. We have exposed ourselves to international ridicule enough to add this too.
The people looking for a medical cure are no fools, but surely wiser than us. So also the people churning out literature texts on how to handle it. Our beliefs system practically leave us open to lethal infection attacks. We still crowded together in the Church, at bus stops, and in virtually all places where we should show some decorum. We are still careless with our personal hygiene, even in high places. No one has ever thought of one infected person getting loose into Ikeja bus stop, or entering a face-me-slap-you neighbourhood. The tragedy that will follow will simply be unimaginable.
We need not joke about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) disease. If it is not here today, the fact is that it can still be spotted tomorrow. The Federal Government should help us a bit. All our borders, the land borders are supposedly closed, but what about the various Camel’s routes in the North, the Canoe’s routes in the East and South-South and the Ajapa’s routes in Oyo, Ogun Lagos and Kwara?
But we should work with the official borders. All borders shop be monitored properly by health officials with proper equipment to test all travellers entering the country. This is only the first step. The second and most crucial is the proper equipping and kitting the Disease Control and Quarantine Centre in Yaba, Lagos. The other time, Dr Aisha Buhari, the First Lady shocked the whole country by her ‘nothing is there’ comment about the Aso Rock Clinic. This time, everything should be made available and manned properly at the Centre.
This is no time for jokes. Coronavirus (COVID-19) is real and beyond stupid religious incantations. Religion dogmatism and stupidity can come in later after the State of Isreal and other forward-looking countries have finally found solutions to the scourge. We can then go back to our churches to sing and dance. Because fortunately enough, there won’t be a hero(ine) this time around. What the nation needs now is administrative savvy and intelligent medical planning by our medical team, ably backed with all resources by the government, not faith proclamations. Therefore the need to move faster now when that the infection can still be curtailed at the entry point level.
Images & Video, courtesy Shutterstock, Google and the WHO.
Afolayan Adebiyi writes from Lagos, Nigeria
© Feferity 2020