With 181 news cases in just a school in Lekki and the general lackadaisical attitude to the COVID-19 protocols, there are genuine fears that Nigeria might be at risk of a second wave if governments fail to enforce adherence to protocols, Shola Oyeyipo writes
On Friday, the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Professor Akin Abayomi, announced that a total of 181 students and staff members of a private school located in a suburb of Lekki, a highbrow part of the state, had tested positive for COVID-19 during surveillance and case investigation in the school. The statement from the state ministry of health also confirmed that there are 441 students and staff in the school.
Abayomi explained that, “A 14-year-old SS1 female student fell ill on the 3rd of October and was sent home after receiving first aid at the school”. He explained further that, “The student subsequently tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday 6th of October in one of the accredited private labs in Lagos”.
This disturbing news is a stark reminder that, perhaps, the Coronavirus pandemic might not have disappeared as many have been erroneously thinking. The mindset of average ‘Lagosian’, and by extension Nigerians, is that the pandemic has been defeated and life could return to normal.
However, there are genuine fears that a second wave of the pandemic might just be around the corner if pro-active measures were not put in place.
Over the last three weeks, the state government has announced total lifting of restrictions with schools now fully open, restaurants can now operate to full capacity, churches and other places of worship have since been opened and ban on public gatherings has been lifted. Markets are now open as well and generally, people have been let loose to socialise and mix with one another.
Be that as it may, COVID-19 protocols are still to be adhered to strictly in public places. These include washing of hands and use of nose masks and face shields. In the same vein, people are supposed to maintain considerable distance from others when in public places.
While these protocols are there, the problem is that many Nigerians do not adhere to these any longer. From social gatherings to markets and even in some public places, many Nigerians do not wear their nose masks or face shields again.
Oladele Morakinyo, an online marketer based in Lagos, told THISDAY that the only places people still observe COVID-19 protocols are in regulated public places like banks, supermarkets and offices.
To him, Nigerians have come to believe that COVID-19 is gone and gone for good. He, however, added that this might not be the case going by the news coming from other parts of the world where there are genuine fears that a second wave of the pandemic might have come upon the world again while Nigerians think the virus had been defeated.
For instance, India recorded thousands of new cases after there was a steady drop in the last two months. Same thing happened in Iran, where Coronavirus deaths have reached nearly the 30,000 mark, which has now forced the government to start considering imposing new restrictions.
In Germany, Europe’s biggest economy and which was generally hailed by the prompt and effective way it dealt with the pandemic, when it was at its peak, has also been recording new cases. The same thing is applicable to the United Kingdom, which though the new cases have not been alarming, has made moves to forestall the possibility of a new surge that might put its health systems under another massive pressure.
To achieve this, the government last Thursday introduced new protocols, which were termed Tier Two COVID-19 restrictions. These protocols included but not limited to the following: people are prohibited from socialising with anybody outside their household or support bubble in any indoor setting. Tradespeople, the artisans, can continue to go into a household for work.
The government also announced that rule of six continues to apply for socialising outdoors, for instance in a garden or public space like a park or beach. It also announced that businesses and venues can continue to operate, but pubs and restaurants must ensure that customers consume food and drink only while seated, and close between 10pm and 5am.
Takeaway food can continue to be sold after 10pm if ordered online or by phone while schools and universities remain open. Places of worship remain open, but people may not mingle in groups of more than six. Weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the numbers attending (15 and 30 respectively).
The UK authorities also announced that bars and restaurants are to close at 11:00pm local time (21:00 GMT), in Berlin until October 31 in a partial curfew, a measure already imposed – but starting an hour earlier – in Frankfurt.
In Germany, Berlin, the Mayor, Michael Muller, announced a new shutdown in the German capital, when more than 400 new cases daily were recorded. The new restrictions also cover all shops except pharmacies and petrol stations, although they will be banned from selling alcohol.
The German Chancellor, Angele Merkel, said “in order to achieve this, we must have minimum standards for certain frequencies of infections.”
The German chancellor said in places, where there are more than 35 new infections per 100,000 residents recorded in a week, the number of people attending gatherings at public or rented facilities should be limited to 50 and no more than 25 should attend events in private homes. She said where infections hit at least 50 per 100,000 residents, those figures should be cut to 25 and 10 respectively.
“This is not the time to party,” Berlin’s Mayor said on Saturday. “We can and we want to prevent another more severe confinement.”
While Nigerians might be spared a new surge in Coronavirus cases, it will also be detrimental if citizens believe the virus has been fully defeated as fears of a second wave of the virus are very real especially, now that protocols are not being adhered to by the people.
Perhaps, the time has come for government to remind citizens of these protocols and strict enforcements are carried out with anyone breaking them made to face the music. The 181 new cases might just be a rude reminder that it is not yet uhuru as far as the fight against COVID-19 is concerned.