Escalating Covid-19 and easing of lockdown
Despite emerging from an unprecedented lockdown in its history of public health emergencies, Nigeria’s covid-19 curve has failed to flatten, hitting record 24,567 cases with 565 deaths as at Sunday June 28, 2020.
Exactly five months into its struggle to curtail the spread, the country is hit by growing scepticism over government’s handling of data and rising community infections claiming new territories, as anxiety and fear over the pandemic reportedly ebbs.
From all inferences, Nigeria is hardly out of the woods and yet to reach its peak in the outbreak, notwithstanding the huge human and economic toll the virus has already dealt it. Normalcy continues to elude the nation as the disruption to its socio cultural, economic and religious life lingers, as if, forever.
Surprisingly, the highly infectious covid-19 ruthlessly wreaks havoc while inter-state curfew remains in place and public effort to weed out the pandemic carries on relentlessly with modest adherence to respiratory hygiene, social distancing, handwashing, mask-wearing and sundry measures recommended by the country’s health authorities.
While efforts by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, to prevent, detect and control the virus and other public heath diseases remain commendable, the escalation of the pandemic was foreseeable in view of the country’s poor health sector, inadequate manpower, overused facilities and inadequate resources.
For a fact, no public health emergency, in recent years, has exposed the inadequacies of the country's health sector as did the Coronavirus disease; uncovering its lack of preparedness, poor budgetary allocation to the sector and a breakdown of the country's emergency response system.
It is therefore no doubt that the NCDC appears overwhelmed by the growing number of infections amid lean resources as well as poor facilities to battle a contagion with such potency in a densely populated country such as Nigeria.
As the virus pitches an affront against Nigerians and their communities, government has not hidden its position on the country's overstretched health facilities, even muting the option of home-care treatment for COVID-19 patients as some states were running out of bed spaces.
"Concerning the availability of bed spaces for the management of patients, there is no doubt that we are struggling in certain places especially in Lagos State, and to an extent Kano and Abuja. But the biggest challenge right now is in Lagos where bed spaces are really tight," the Director General of NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu said.
While all effort must not be spared by individuals, organisations and government to curtail the spread of the virus, given the economic hardship security and social chellenges that trailed the lengthy lockdown in Abuja, Lagos, and Ogun states in April and May, relevant authorities must explore other avenues in fighting the pandemic other than repeated lockdowns. Of course, as evidence showed, the lockdown was not completely effective.
Meanwhile, regulatory agencies overseeing vaccine and drug researches on the cure and prevention of Covid-19 must speed up the processes to ensure the country achieves home-made treatment in no time. Every claim to the duscovery of a vaccine or drug such as the one recently made by a team of scientists from Adeleke University, must be thoroughly investigated and not wished away.
As the country looks up to the scientific community in the country, it must endeavor to live up to its name just as their counterparts across the world also race their nations to a possible cure soon.