COVID-19: FROM ITALIAN DAVIDE CARRARA TO GOVERNOR EL-RUFAI, THE LIGHT MAY BE DIMING ON NIGERIA
As the world continues to grapple with the realities of Coronavirus (COVID -19) pandemic, death toll continues to rise in the West especially in Italy, Spain and the United States among others. One can at best imagine the worse for Africa, a continent with poor medical services. While China isolated its people and endured the effect, especially the pains of a lockdown, Nigeria and Africa opened their borders and imported the novel virus. A continent that was never prepared despite all the warnings. In came the index case, one Davide Carrara, the Italian who was widely believed as the first person to have brought the virus into Nigeria.
From the failure of the Nigerian Government to place travel ban especially for travelers from high risk countries, to poor screening protocols at Nigerian Airports, to slow response by Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to attend to suspected cases, to ineffective contacts tracing of suspected cases, to the failure of the President to address the nation and declare a state of emergency against the pandemic, to the failure of the Chief of Staff to the President to go into self-isolation in line with WHO directive despite returning from a high risk area. The lapses are endless. All these have been worsened by the uncoordinated approach by the Federal Government, which has seen respective states taking the initiative to find an approach, which at best is theoretical but short in practice. All these describe Nigeria’s pathetic situation. One may begin to wonder, what could have been, had Nigeria taken lessons from the West.
With each passing day, the number of cases continue to rise astronomically, while over 4,500 suspected COVID-19 contacts remain untraced. By implication, almost all of Lagos has had direct or indirect contact. These gaps meant, the Italian and many other carriers had unrestrained access. One big question remains, Is the casualty rate as low as portrayed or just another deceit?
Data on COVID-19 Incidents in Nigeria
Prof Akin Abayomi, The Commissioner of Health in Lagos State shared some important statistics via his twitter handle.
As at 10:40 pm 28th March 2020, Nigeria had recorded 97 confirmed cases. Out of this number, 3 persons had made full recovery and discharged, while casualty remains 1 death.
A breakdown of cases by states currently show that:
From the breakdown, it is assessed that most of the confirmed cases were imported through Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt. These incidentally are places with international airports. What is surprising however, is that Kano is not on the list, although several flights had landed in Kano before the closure of the international airports. Can we still rely on the data as accurate or just wait until the worse befalls Nigeria? Cases not tested cannot be detected. This is not to say the other states are having a clean bill of health as reported, but the fact remains that most of these states are not testing as they are not prepared. Monitoring has confirmed that some states have just set up a testing and an isolation centre, while others are busy closing their border without putting in place measures to respond to an outbreak.
As typical of Africa and the communist nature, the people are together in the fight. Donations from Individuals and the Private Sector Coalition have continued to flow. However, how Nigeria copes in the coming weeks will to a large extent depend on the people. Despite the warnings on social distancing and the sit-at-home directives, the people are still on the streets. At this rate, an exponential rise in COVID-19 cases is likely and a total lockdown may remain the solution.
In all of this, Lagos State remains the hope of Nigeria defeating the virus. Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu and the Commissioner of Health, Prof Akin Abayomi are the real heros, as they have taken the initiative and shown coordination in the handling of the crisis.