Cases of the COVID-19 pandemic might be rising in the country but another lockdown won’t make any difference in stemming the spread of the dreaded virus. Samuel Ajayi writes
Last week, the Lagos State government reportedly put it into vote on Twitter on whether or not lockdown should be reintroduced to check the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Though while this could not be independently confirmed, it was reported that a majority of the respondents actually voted for re-introduction of the lockdown.
It remains to be seen if the state government would act on the result of the polls, but it goes without saying that from all indications, it is debatable if another lockdown would make any difference in arresting the spread of the pandemic, and the reasons for this are very obvious.
In the real sense of it, perhaps the state government had every reason to start mulling the idea of reintroducing the lockdown. One of such reasons was the non-adherence to safety measures put out by the World Health Organisation (WHO), and the number one of these measures is social/physical distancing.
On May 4, the day the lockdown was lifted, Nigerians, especially, those in Lagos, trooped out to their banks and they were very disturbing scenes in virtually all the branches of the banks that opened for business.
Crowds gathered in front of these banks and there was no physical distancing whatsoever. And to worsen it all, some wore their facemasks while others simply refused to wear them. And they were mingling, shoving, pushing and elbowing themselves.
A bank customer and online marketer, Oladele Morakinyo, said many of those who were in the banks that day were people who had one issue or the other to sort out in their banks but had not been able to do so due to the lockdown. He added that being the first day of post-lockdown, they had to bombard the few branches that opened for business.
“Many of those we saw in those branches that day had one issue or the other to sort out in their banks and the lockdown had not allowed them. So, they had to use the opportunity of the first working day after the lockdown to go to their banks. But I must add that what we saw that day was very disturbing,” Morakinyo stated.
Perhaps, it was due to this that the Lagos State government gazetted that anyone, who fails to use his or her facemask in public would be liable to a fine of N10,000 or go on community service for a period of time.
It seems the state government is very serious about it. In Oshodi, a very busy Lagos suburb, there was full enforcement of the law during the week. Anyone not with his or her facemask was promptly arrested, tried in mobile court and sentenced.
It is believed that this would go a long way in enforcing not only social or physical distancing, but also the discipline that comes with it.
Recall that the state government currently places a ban on all forms of commercial motorcycles except those being used for courier services.
In the same vein, commercial tricycles, popularly called ‘keke’, cannot also convey more than two passengers at a time while commercial buses can no longer have more than sixty per cent of their capacity.
All these measures are meant to ensure social distancing and stem the spread of the dreaded COVID-19. And to some extent, these measures are working, especially, those that have to do with commercial transportation.
This is why many are of the opinion that introducing another lockdown might not really change anything. And there are reasons to back this up.
The lockdown, while it lasted, was poorly implemented and with no thanks to security agents, who saw the lockdown as opportunity to make money.
For instance, even with inter-state lockdown, there have been movements of goods and human beings across states, which forced the Ekiti State governor, Kayode Fayemi, to call out security agencies and charged them to assist government in enforcing the lockdown.
“Reports of total disregard of the preventive directives especially at our boundary towns is very discouraging,” Fayemi said in a press briefing held in Ado-Ekiti, last month.
Medical experts have been saying, for the past one month that, humanity must learn how to live with COVID-19 until a vaccine is found and the virus is defeated. They warned of the health implications of keeping people under lockdown for a long period of time.
Last week, the WHO warned that Coronavirus might not completely go away but what would remain would be a weaker strain of the virus. But the body warned that the world must prepare for cases of mental health issues as a result of the long period of lockdown as well as the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on people’s businesses and means of livelihoods.
Dr. Jay Osi-Samuels, a Harvard-trained public health expert and Director of Laboratory Services of AIDS Prevention Initiative for Nigeria (APIN), told THISDAY recently that the medical expert in him would have suggested that lockdown be kept in place for as long as possible but the human being in him believes that governments across the world have to look for ways of managing the pandemic while people are allowed to go back to their businesses.
To show that life has got to go on, the German Bundesliga started yesterday while the Spanish La Liga too would start next week. The English Premiership had been given the clear to start training from June 1.
Beyond this, countries are opening up gradually while calling on their citizens to maintain social distancing and other safety measures.
From all indications, the world has to learn to live with COVID-19 until a cure is found and above all, each person’s safety is in his or her hands.