The global battle against the COVID-19 pandemic has been fierce and exhausting. With no particular end in sight, but the newly developed vaccine, which offers a flicker of hope amidst conspiracy theories and doubts, global economies have devised coping mechanisms by way of precautionary measures such as codes of conduct, operational guidelines and intermittent shutdowns to help flatten the curve and curb the spread of the deadly virus.
With the emergence of the second wave of the pandemic, which started late 2020, reported cases and daily deaths skyrocketed globally, with the US topping the list. According to statistics, there are 86,839,226 reported cases with 1,876,243 deaths globally as at January 6 (Source: world meters.info) with 21.1 million cases and 357,0000 deaths from the US (Sources: Wikipedia and The New York Times) and 2.71 million cases with 75, 431 deaths in the UK (Sources: Wikipedia and JHU CSSE COVID-19 Data) as at January 5, 2021.
Surprisingly, there are yet fewer reported cases in Africa, however, the second wave has brought the figures to 1.13 million reported cases with 30,524 deaths in South Africa (Sources: Wikipedia and others) as at January 5, 2021, and 91,351 cases with 1,318 deaths in Nigeria as at January 3, 2021. (Source: JHU CSSE COVID-19 Data)
Prominent personalities like Ubong King, a renowned Business Coach and General John Olubunmi Irefin, the General Officer Commanding 6 Division Port Harcourt, among others lost the battle to the new wave of COVID-19 in Nigeria towards the ending of 2020, while popular musician Paul Okoye aka King Rudy recently narrated his battle with the virus, while encouraging Nigerians to observe precautionary measures.
New guidelines for public operations have been released by the government, stating new codes of conduct. However, it is surprising to observe that despite various reports and directives from the government, many Nigerians still doubt the existence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
popular musician Paul Okoye aka King Rudy recently narrated his battle with the virus, while encouraging Nigerians to observe precautionary measures @funmi_adebayoTweet
“It’s not real…” “There’s no COVID-19 in Nigeria”, “The government is just out to exploit the people…”, “My pastor says that we are covered…” (however, some spiritual leaders do emphasize adherence to safety guidelines); and the likes are common reactions, while most go about their daily activities with reckless abandon, paying no attention to laid down precautionary measures like regular washing of hands, wearing of facemask in public places, and social distancing.
To clear all doubts, allay unnecessary fears, and give an honest review of the current realities of the pandemic in 2021 as it affects Nigeria with a special focus on Lagos State – the economic hub of the country, I recently spoke with Dr. Adewale Agosu, an expert in the Public Health sector.
What are the present realities of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021 as affects Nigerians? Let’s hear from Dr. Adewale Agosu.
“It’s not real…” “There’s no COVID-19 in Nigeria”, “The government is just out to exploit the people…”, “My pastor says that we are covered…” are common the reactions to COVID-19 in Nigeria… @funmie_adebayo @adewaleagosu @adewaleagosu @dexnu1Tweet
Q. What is the assessment of the COVID-19 situation in Lagos, Nigeria from when the lockdown was fully relaxed till now?
Dr. Wale: After the ease of the lockdown people went about their normal daily business activities with no regards for the existing protocols of infection prevention control (I.P.C), which involves wearing of facemask, social distancing, washing of hands with soap and water, because they believe the pandemic is over, while some people denied the existence of COVID-19 (a highly infectious disease caused by the virus called SARS COV2) in the first place. Many people believed it was a way of government siphoning funds.
The reason the lockdown was eased in the first place was because there was a plateau, and the number of new cases of the infection had decreased, added to the economic burden of the lockdown. However the country cannot be on locked down forever, that was the reason for the persistence of advocacy for preventive measures as earlier mentioned.
To clear all doubts, allay unnecessary fears, and give an honest review of the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic as it affects Nigeria in 2021, I recently spoke with Dr. Adewale Agosu, an expert in the Public Health sector. @funmie_adebayo @adewaleagosu @dexnu1Tweet
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Dr Wale: The current situation is that the rate of infections of the virus is rising as new cases are being reported, and there are cases of death secondary to COVID-19.
The United Kingdom and South Africa reported to have had a more transmissible strain of the virus that is faster infectious than the first wave. Other countries have taken stringent measures to tackle the resurgence e.g. the banning of flights from the United Kingdom and South African and other highly burden countries. The resurgence of COVID-19 in Africa Nigeria, especially, is the second wave (i.e. increase in the number of new cases after the lockdown, after the number had reduced).
“It’s not real…” “There’s no COVID-19 in Nigeria”, “The government is just out to exploit the people…”, “My pastor says that we are covered…” are similar reactions @funmie_adebayo @adewaleagosuTweet
Q. What precautionary measures should we take this new year?
Dr Wale: There are no new precautionary measures apart from the same non-pharmaceutical preventive measures: wearing of face masks, maintaining physical distance, avoiding a crowded place, washing of hands with soap and water, any symptom of upper respiratory tract infection or feeling unwell should go to Hospital to see a doctor.
Pre- school children (0-6 yrs) should not wear face masks because of the risk of reduced oxygen to their fragile lungs
The government has given directives that social or religious gathering must not be greater than 50% of the facility capacity and this needs to be adhered to strictly.
Every traveler in or out of the country is expected to have done the COVID-19 test and obtain the certificate before they can be allowed to travel. Besides, they are expected to self quarantine for 7 days after return. Such persons will undergo another COVID-19 test after the seventh day of quarantine before he/she could be allowed to go out to mingle with the public.
Q. What are the projections for 2021?
Dr Wale: The ultimate projection for 2021 as regards COVID-19 in Nigeria is to get the vaccine available for as many as government can afford to reach. This would be preceded by sensitization and creating of awareness on the importance of the vaccine through all available media.
The ultimate projection for 2021 as regards COVID-19 in Nigeria is to get the vaccine available for as many as government can afford to reach @adewaleagosu @deexnuTweet
Q. What should our position or outlook as we settle down in the New Year
Dr Wale: In my opinion, Nigerians typically wouldn’t comply with regulations or do the right thing until the rules are enforced. That is why social gathering or religious centers as well as markets should be monitored so that people adhere to the protocols. People should be held accountable for their health so as not to increase the spread of the virus (SARS-CoV2), with a resultant reduction in the rate of infection to zero.
People should be held accountable for their health so as not to increase the spread of the virus (SARS-CoV2), with a resultant reduction in the rate of infection to zero @adewaleagosu @deexnuTweet
The Government and other NGOs can help with more awareness (with a bottom-to-top approach) and make the testing free for all. The average Nigerian should be aware and informed about the virus, how to prevent it. What to do, where to go to seek help when they have the symptoms.
Public and private schools should put in place preventive protocols given out by the NDDC/ WHO and availability of emergency services when it is required.
The political will by the Government must be stronger to support the health system. The recently proposed national budgetary allocation for health for 2021 is just about 4.526%. That needs to be improved upon as agreed at the Abuja declaration (2001), by the African Union (AU) leaders and the World Health Organization (WHO), that the minimum standard budgetary allocation for health should be 15%. They say ‘health is wealth’, and I say the health of a nation is her wealth, but the ill-health of a nation is her peril. Therefore, the government should prioritize the health of its citizens, starting from the Primary Healthcare, which is in fact, the bedrock of any health system in the world, to the Secondary and Tertiary Healthcare systems in the country.
the government should prioritize the health of its citizen, starting from the Primary Healthcare, which is in fact, the bedrock of any health system in the world @adewaleagosu @dexnu1Tweet
Another very important issue is that there has been a shift of focus from other preventable diseases (such as hypertension, diabetes, malaria, yellow fever, lassa fever, mental health issues, tuberculosis, HIV e.t.c) to COVID-19. These preventable diseases are a huge burden on the health system in the country as well.
Then lastly the Government must, as a matter of urgency, be prepared to tackle the issue of rumours on vaccines when it is officially available for use.
the Government must, as a matter of urgency, be prepared to tackle the issue of rumours on vaccines when it is officially available for use. @adewaleagosu @deexnuTweet
Dr, Adewale Agosu is a general practioner and a Public Health Physician. He is married with children. He is a lover of good music, Multi-talented instrumentalist and lover God.