COVID-19: Beyond travel ban, closure of schools, airports
Last week, cases of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria spiked exponentially, forcing authorities to impose a travel ban on at least 13 countries, mostly epicenters of the ravaging disease. This was, perhaps, the first time Nigeria restricted Europeans, Asians and Americans from entering its territory, more so, for the urbane reason of keeping its own survival.
As the virus continued to spread globally, travel ban became a standard measure earlier adopted by countries such as US, China, Spain, Iran and others to save their citizens. In worst case scenarios such as Wuhan, Milan and elsewhere, total lockdown, national or citywide quarantine became mandatory to fend off the spread of the virus. Across all societies suffering the effect of the pandemic, restriction of movement became a common strategy.
Surprisingly, Nigerian authorities failed to adopt the approach as a first resort towards stemming importation of coronavirus into the country. For whatever reason, authorities waited until infected cases began to climb. Maybe they underestimated chances of the virus spreading so fast, or were just complacent. In any case, such a disposition in the face of an outbreak of a deadly virus leaves the nation precariously clutching to fate.
Like a war, COVID-19 requires all options and strategic approach within national reach to fight off its escalation, which explains why countries have been very understanding about steps taken by others to protect themselves. As survival becomes the first instinct in the face of the pandemic, every right thing must be done to stay alive, notwithstanding diplomatic and economic setbacks, or delayed academic calendar and its consequences on national goals.
When Nigeria announced a total shutdown of its schools nationwide, Friday, and ordered the closure of Kano, Enugu and Port Harcourt international airports, with the exception of Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, it took an appropriate step a bit late. An earlier travel ban and closure of airports and schools would have spared the nation the scramble to put 1,300 persons currently on the watch list.
Although confirmed COVID-19 cases have remained stable at 12, since making the rapid climb from 3 cases between Wednesday and Thursday, without official record of any death, there are concerns that the number could rise with 1,300 currently on the watch list. Authorities must, therefore, be reminded that Nigeria does not have the facilities, personnel and resources to fight a pandemic of such scale if they allow an escalation. Its best shot at fighting COVID-19 is to curtail its spread, and government must endeavor to put in everything to ensure that no more infections are reported.
Globally, over 280,000 cases have now been confirmed with over 11, 417 fatalities, deaths. While over 91,954 have so far recovered, there are still over 173,147 active cases with about 165,234, representing 95 per cent of the cases considered as mild and about 7,913, representing 5 per cent of the cases considered as critical/clinical conditions.
As confirmed cases in Nigeria remain low, the hard work and dedication of its medical experts at the centre of caring and offering professional advice must be commended, while their professional colleagues under the aegis of resident doctors in FCT, currently on strike, must take a cue from their commitment, return to work and live up to their calling.
Personal hygiene remains a viable defense against all viral diseases. Individuals must therefore take necessary steps towards protecting themselves and their families by adhering strictly to all medical advices on the prevention, quarantine and treatment of victims. While the pandemic lasts, lifestyle changes such as social distancing, self-quarantine, respiratory etiquette are essential for protecting yourself and others. All citizens are also obligated to report suspected cases to appropriate authorities for immediate action.
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