Covid-19: Way Forward for Nigeria

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Folusho Adeyinka

Nigeria like every other country in the world is going through an unprecedented ravage of coronavirus which emanated from Wuhan in China in December 2019. The country is looking for a way round this challenge just like every other country in the world.

Ultimately they are hoping to get a vaccine or cure which hopefully will provide a lasting solution to the pandemic.

Nigeria till date (July 25, 2020), has officially registered about 39,977 cases with 856 Covid-19 related deaths since the first case was registered in the country in February 2020. This is a good report when compared to reports from other much developed countries in Europe and USA.

The USA for instance has recorded over 4.34 million cases with 149,552 deaths as of 25th July, since their first case was recorded in January 2020.

So what is the way forward for Nigeria?

While we acknowledge and appreciate the good works being done by the PTF, the NCDC and some states like Lagos, Delta and Kaduna to proactively stop the spread of this virus in Nigeria, we believe the ultimate solution is for the government to implement a holistic approach of re-designing every private and public hospital in Nigeria to become a screening/on the spot testing/sample collection centre for this virus or any other future infectious diseases in the future.
This may just be the permanent solution to this problem.

How is this a permanent solution?

●No hospital can turn back anybody again because they can screen/test/take samples of everybody that comes around.

●Everybody that comes to the hospital is screened first for covid-19, and if suspected of the virus can take on the spot rapid test.

●If not satisfied with the on the spot rapid test result, the patient can probe further by asking the hospital to collect his/her nose swipe samples, which can then be sent to NCDC to do a comprehensive test in their molecular laboratory. This test takes 24-96 hours according to NCDC.

●This makes the treatment of ailments like Malaria or Typhoid that present similar symptoms to the Covid-19 virus possible without mixing it up with the virus infection.

●So the patient knows his/her status on the spot and can be treated or sent to isolation centre or sent back home to self-isolate for 14 days if he/she is asymptotic or showing mild symptoms.

●Meanwhile, the patient sits in a special room to wait for the on the spot results.

● If the patient decides for a comprehensive test from NCDC, it means he has to come back after 24-96 hours depending on the location and distance from the nearest molecular laboratory.

●They can then be treated for their ailment after they get their results after 24-96 hours or sent back home to self-isolate if it is mild symptom or taken to isolation centre if it presents a serious case.
●Those in rural areas or remote areas should have factored the extra days to their treatment especially if they have to do a proper NCDC test from molecular laboratory.

●This way everyone can go about their business normally. Every situation can now return back to the new normal lives.

●The return may be slow but surely it will return within say six months of this implementation.
●While the focus should shift from the numbers to how well we adapt to these new normal lives. There is no need to panic.

●If and when there is another outbreak of any other infectious flu, in say 3 or 5 years that requires another 18 months to get the vaccine or if there is another 2nd wave of same Covid-19 virus, this system is already in place to handle it and there will be no need for another lockdown.

●Churches can also cautiously resume, following the NCDC guidelines and there is no need to panic because anyone who has any symptom can go to the nearest hospital for screening or testing or treatment. The churches just need to observe basic temperature test and social distancing rules for their members.

●Mosques too can resume practicing same basic rules like the churches.

●The hospitals will somewhat be happy to do the screening and used as collection centres for nose samples, since it will allow them carry on their activities normally and they will not be scared of being closed by government due to covid-19 virus treatment.

●Our schools too can resume fully following the NCDC guidelines i.e. apply the same temperature checks and social distancing rules.

●Our event centres and hotels can also open observing the basic social distancing and basic temperatures rules.
●Government may continue to bear this cost of testing or they may pass the cost to hospitals who in turn can pass it down to individuals.

●Anytime we are able to get the cure or vaccine, everyone suspected of the virus can just go voluntarily to the nearest hospital for test and cure.

●That theory (for those who believe in the conspiracy theory) that this virus is targeted towards giving them a vaccine will fall flat. Why? Because nobody will be forced to take any injection as there will be no need for any compulsory vaccination.

●The kind of confusion that we see now in some of our states and even amongst the ministers will be taken care of once they implement the same thing. That is every hospital becomes a screening/collection centres for samples of nose swipes.

●And what will be the cost of implementing these changes? Just for government to direct that all the hospitals to make available the PPE – (at least the Kiosk type which is cheaper and readily available- sample shown below), for their frontline medical officers, little changes in the front office designs and most importantly the will and our collective determination to make this happen.

●And why implement a hospital wide screening/testing? Because we are at the community transmission phase of the virus, where contact tracing may not be very effective again.

This is a personal but professional proposed process re-engineering solution to this pandemic in conjunction with medical professionals’ advices.

Adeyinka wrote from Lagos