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COVID-19: Why Nigerians fear another lockdown, yet defy safety protocols

The second wave of Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has been ferociously ravaging the country. There has been an astronomic increase in the number of infected persons in the past few days. The casualty figures across the states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, are also rising. Last Thursday, Nigeria recorded another grim statistics with 1,565 confirmed new cases in 25 states and the FCT. The data released by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) also indicated that six people died of the virus. Thursday’s figure pushed the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 95,934, total number of casualties to 1,330 and total number of recoveries to 77, 982.

Among the latest casualties were a former Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Prof. Oyewusi Ibidapo-Obe, who reportedly died as a result of complications from the disease on January 3; a retired professor of science education at the same university, Duro Ajeyalemi, who died on January 6, and Haroun Hamzat, a medical doctor and the younger brother of the deputy governor of Lagos State, who also died on January 6, aged 37.

As the disease spreads, government at all levels in the country and concerned individuals have been crying out loud to caution Nigerians against undermining it.

Last Thursday, Chairman of the Presidential Taskforce (PTF) on COVID-19 and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, lamented Nigerians’ nonchalant attitude to the virus.

“We must be very aggressive with our communication because we are at a tipping point. The more people are infected, the more the rate of hospitalisations will go up and we will run out of bed spaces and correspondingly, people who have other ailments will not be able to assess healthcare.

“So, people will be dying of COVID-19 and people will be dying of other ailments. There will be a strain on medical personnel and right now, our medical front-liners are under intense pressure to meet the needs of patients who are infected with COVID-19. So, we are at a tipping point and my plea to Nigerians is that we must arrest this transmission,” he appealed.

Last Wednesday, the Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, also expressed concern over rising cases of confirmed persons in the state. The state still retains its position as the epicentre of the pandemic in the country with 34,136 confirmed cases as at 12.57pm yesterday, with 807 new cases recorded last Thursday.

In a note the governor posted on his social media handles, he wrote: “Lagos, there is an urgent need for us to be more circumspect in the way we live, interact and socialise with our friends and family.

“Many people are ignoring COVID-19 warnings and guidelines, thereby exposing themselves and others to the virus. We are well into the second wave of the pandemic. Yesterday (Tuesday), Lagos scarily recorded its highest number of infections in one day – 712. We have already recorded a frightening spike in infection cases. This spike brings positive cases to a total of 32,720 in Lagos alone.

“This second wave comes with severe symptoms, and the higher number of positive cases we detect, the higher number of casualties we are bound to record. We do not want this, but for this to be avoided, we must be intentional and cautious.

“We also do not want to go into another lockdown. It is important that you wear your masks, avoid crowded areas, wash or sanitise your hands regularly and practice social distancing. We simply cannot afford to be complacent at this time.”

Speaking in the same vein, the Chief Medical Director (CMD), Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba, Lagos, Prof. Chris Bode, said COVID-19 second wave was claiming many lives.

Bode, who made the assertion at a news conference in Lagos, last Wednesday said: “The resurgence of COVID-19, through the newly mutated form, is ravaging our land, claiming many lives. Unlike what we witnessed in the first wave, this one is even more easily transmitted and deadlier too.

It is, therefore, imperative for everyone to, first and foremost, accept that COVID-19 pandemic is not over, and we must prepare to confront it all over again. What we see on the streets, worship centres and social interactions, parties and daily activities call for concern.

“In a period when the ‘enemy’ has doubled back and is attacking us ferociously, we seem to be celebrating a false victory and denying the danger is still around us. We need to observe all the basic rules we have been following all along and wake up to the present reality.”

Some recent survivors of the disease have also appealed to Nigerians to observe the safety protocols against the disease and stay safe.

Singer Paul Okoye, better also known as Rudeboy, who reportedly recovered from the virus on Tuesday, January 5, took to Instagram to warn Nigerians that the disease was real and deadly.

In a post on his Instagram handle @iamkingrudy, he narrated his harrowing experience with the dreaded disease, noting: “Attention!!! COVID is real!!! I know as typical Nigerians or Africans, it is very hard to believe. Some will say ‘experience is the best teacher’. Oh well, the experience and the teacher has visited me and they’ve been dealing with me for more than 10 days now. It is not funny, worst sickness ever!!! Y’all better be careful out there. If you like, believe me; if you like don’t believe me. You can as well wait for your own experience by playing ignorance. Good luck. God help us all.”

The music star added: “If you see me and want to hug me and I push you, do not be angry, I am not ‘forming celebrity’. Let’s learn to greet from afar. There is nothing worse than this illness.”

Another celebrity, Atunyota Akpobome, popularly known as Ali Baba, who also survived the deadly virus recently, has also urged Nigerians to take necessary precautions against the virus. He made the call on his Instagram page, @alibabagcfr last Monday, saying: “COVID-19 is real. Don’t let anyone tell you it is a scam. I just came out of isolation, several people died while I was there. Some of my close friends know and they were very supportive.

“COVID-19 is real. Observe all the protocols, people are dying and it is not a joke. In fact, anyone who says COVID-19 is a scam is a compound idiot and a fool.”

These clarion calls and many others notwithstanding, the masses seem to have thrown caution to the wind. Non-compliance with the safety protocols against the disease has become the new order. And those who defy these protocols giddily justify their actions. Yet they are quick to caution the federal and state governments against ordering another lockdown as part of efforts to contain further spread of the virus.

In Lagos, a resident in Surulere area of the state, Anoruo Chigozie Magnus, unequivocally told The Guardian that he had stopped observing the safety protocols against the disease.

“I don’t take precautionary measures anymore because, to me, the government is blowing the numbers out of proportion. I believe I have my immunity built already and I can’t be infected. We Africans have strong immune system,” he said.

To Ismail Saheed, a resident in Mushin area, Coronavirus is truly in existence but not in Nigeria. Saheed alleged that both the federal and state governments have been using the outbreak of the pandemic not only to embezzle public funds but also to punish innocent Nigerians.

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