CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC UPDATE: NIGERIA MUST LEARN FROM THE MISTAKES OF OTHERS
By Akin Ojumu
Experience, it is said, is the best teacher. While that may be true, it doesn’t, however, have to be the individual’s personal experience that one can learn from. The rich lessons that can be squeezed out of experience can also be learned from the experiences of other people. We do not have to personally experience an event before we learn from that event.
As the Coronavirus pandemic pandemonium reverberates around the world, Nigeria has been, for the most part, shielded from all the commotion. Despite minimal preparedness and capacity, there has been only eight reported cases of COVID-19 in the country. Many Nigerians do not understand, and cannot comprehend, the existential threat the novel Coronavirus poses. To them, it is a noise in distant lands that has nothing to do with them. As a result, Nigerians go about their daily routine without a care in the world. The fast-moving forest fire that is swooping down on their land is of no concern to them, and they seem to be unfazed by the freight train that is bearing down on the country. As they are wont to do with most things, Nigerians have turned the pandemic into another comic sketch and somewhat of an amusement.
That Nigeria has not experienced an overwhelming outbreak of Coronavirus is indeed a very good thing. By divine providence, the country has been spared of the raging pestilence that is ravaging scientifically advanced countries and has brought economically powerful nations to their knees. God has been gracious to Nigeria and He has given the government of Nigeria ample time to prepare and get their acts together.
It'll be a mistake to allow this precious grace period to go to waste. If Nigeria is to avoid a calamitous outbreak in the country that could result in the decimation of the country, now is the time for Nigeria to pay attention and act. It is time the Nigerian government institute an aggressive containment strategy and a robust mitigation plan that must include but not limited to:
1. National plan and mass mobilization of Nigeria’s society including healthcare, military, police force, etc.
2. Start public health and public education campaigns
3. Travel restrictions to countries that are hotspots of the coronavirus pandemic
4. Widespread testing regime at government hospitals, private hospitals, mobile testing stations around the country, etc.
5. Equip hospitals and healthcare facilities with necessary and adequate equipment and facilities e.g. face masks, respirators, personal protective equipment, ventilators, more hospital beds, intensive care units, etc.
6. Establish hand washing stations with clean water and soap at the markets, motor parks, bus stops, etc.
7. Implement personal hygiene e.g. hand cleansing, coughing etiquette, etc.
8. Discourage and limit certain unnecessary large gatherings, ask older people who are more susceptible to COVID-19 to stay home, etc.
Nigeria cannot afford to take the grace of God for granted. The government of Nigeria must not sit idly by and let the Nigeria’s Coronavirus situation turn into that of Italy or China. If these precious moments are wasted, the country runs the risk of being laid to waste by a rampaging virus. Nigeria must learn from the experience of other countries. A word is sufficient for the wise.