THE SECOND WAVE OF COVID-19

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Nigerians should adhere strictly to the safety protocols to defeat the scourge

Last Friday, Nigeria recorded 796 new cases of COVID-19, representing the highest daily burden of the disease since the first index case of the pandemic was confirmed on 27th February this year. But it came as no surprise. Since early December, there has been a steady surge of the virus after initially appearing to have slowed down, a situation that suggests the country has now commenced a second wave of the pandemic. Although expected, after it appeared Nigerians were beginning to have health protocol fatigue, the second wave has proven to be of a more virulent mutation of the virus with a sudden increase in recorded deaths and cases of infection across the country, especially in Lagos and Abuja. Some prominent people have died of complications arising from Covid-19 within hours of being seen in public without any evidence of the illness.

To be fair, the sudden increase in COVID-19 cases is not exclusive to Nigeria. Last Friday, the United States broke its own record for the most deaths from COVID-19 in one week. South Africa also has seen a sharp spike in infections since the start of December with reported cases hovering around 8,000 per day in last few days. In France, the former highest daily new case number was 7,500 on March 31. Its new peak was recorded last Sunday with 26,675 new cases in 24 hours. Spain also recorded over 30,000 cases last week. In the first wave of the pandemic, the United Kingdom had a peak number of 6,860 daily on April 10. It recorded 17,540 cases lately in a single day.

But while some of the countries affected by the new surge in COVID-19 cases have commenced vaccination this week, Nigeria is unfortunately still several months away from partnering, purchasing and taking delivery of the vaccines. This therefore makes it extremely important to ensure preventive measures are put in place to reduce the spread of the virus, pending when the country is able to commence administration of the vaccines to the citizens.

The federal government must do all within its power to ensure the pandemic does not snowball, especially now that the strain of the second wave appears to be more deadly than the earlier one, and in the face of a poor healthcare system. Government at all levels should, as part of precaution, reopen already closed isolation centres, make emergency units and ventilators available, intensify campaigns on the importance of observing health protocols, reinforce, equip and motivate frontline workers, as well as put measures on ground that would ensure the implementation of rules against large gatherings and other COVID-19 enabler.

Citizens on the other hand must do their bit to help curb the pandemic. Last week, the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 raised the alarm that some Nigerians were acting as though the pandemic was over, adding that such action was capable of escalating the cases. It also mentioned that some religious leaders were making the fight against the pandemic difficult as they no longer follow laid down rules on large gatherings and social distancing. We appeal to our clerics to consider the interest and safety of their adherents at this most difficult period.

We do not subscribe to the idea of a second lockdown because of its implications for the economy that is already in recession. While there are few worse things than for a country to keep its youthful population idle, the Covid-19 pandemic has simply aggravated the crisis, reportedly raising the number of the unemployed to more than 40 per cent. So, in our present circumstance, dealing with COVID-19 requires preventive measures.

If Nigerians adhere to wearing face masks, use alcohol-based hand sanitisers, observe social distancing, avoid large gatherings, and travel less, there is a high possibility the country’s second wave of the virus will be short-lived.