Even with the rising figures (of confirmed cases, as well as deaths and recoveries), the obvious grinding to a halt of world economy, the innumerable postponements and cancellations of both local and global events, and the annihilation of active social interactions, there are individuals who still think of the whole ‘coronavirus scare’ as a propaganda; a wild, impossible joke. But then, it appears that the virus has very little regard for non-believers of its existence; if it did, it probably should have taken a break long ago to help them understand ‘what’s up’, to make them know what’s really at stake here – but it wouldn’t, because it just doesn’t care what anyone believes. For SARS-CoV-2, its less about individuals and probably more about changing the world and its perspectives to life; and it’s been going about in its usual unannounced style, focused on its business while keeping us all at home.
When Nigeria’s first COVID-19 case was announced in the early hours of February 28, 2020, by the NCDC (Nigeria Centre for Disease Control), little did we know that the disaster hovering over our tents would stay, and then, linger for this long. Starting with just one ‘foreign’ case of COVID-19 – the Italian index case – about eight weeks ago, Nigeria now boasts of almost 1,000 confirmed cases of the disease, currently spread across 27 states (including the FCT).
COVID-19 Statistics 
Total confirmed cases: 2,716,388
Active cases: 1,780,546 | Recovered cases: 745,343 | Deaths: 190,499
United States, Spain, Italy, France, Germany, United Kingdom and Turkey with at least 100,000 cases, account for over 65% of the total number of cases worldwide.
Total confirmed cases: 28,092 | Active cases: 18,260 | Recovered cases: 8,534 | Deaths: 1,298
South Africa, Egypt, Morocco and Algeria currently lead the pack in the continent, with over 3,000 cases each, and account for at least 50% of the total number of cases recorded so far in the continent.
| Nigeria 
Total confirmed cases: 981 | Active cases: 753 | Recovered cases: 197 | Deaths: 31
Lagos, FCT and Kano currently top the chart in Nigeria, with Lagos alone accounting for over 50% of total cases.
Nigeria’s Response to the COVID-19 Crisis
Just like most other countries being ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, Nigeria has resorted to imposing lockdowns in a bid to control and curtail the spread of the virus. Apart from Lagos, Ogun and the FCT where the Federal government has given compulsory ‘stay at home’ injunctions, several other state governments, including Edo, have also taken similar measures in their states.
With the spate at which new cases are being recorded, one would even wish a lockdown had been implemented at an earlier time, but that’s not the case. Most Nigerians still think of the lockdown as an extreme and impromptu measure that the government is taking with little or no consideration for the harsh realities of hunger and poverty plaguing a greater percentage of the population. Some of them argue that, hunger, suffering, molestation from the military or police and depression could end up killing more individuals confined to the discomfort of their homes, than the virus itself. Although, government officials, as well as corporate agencies, religious organisations and private individuals have risen to the task of providing assistance to needy individuals, the sad reality remains that many more persons are yet unreached, and may never be reached (thanks to corruption!). And as it stands, loosening the grips of the lockdown does not appear to be a feasible reality anytime soon. Daily cases are already surpassing a hundred (108 new cases were recorded on Thursday, April 23, 2020), and then there are thousands of contact cases, only awaiting a confirmatory positive test.
While it’s obvious the country may not be prepared for its current ‘recurrent’ lockdowns, it appears there is very little that can be done to avoid one, no matter how long it could last. The rising figures on community spread (cases whose source of infection is unknown) suggest the country may be sitting on a time-bomb, that could explode anytime, anywhere.
Our Collective Responsibilities
| Stay Safe and Strong
Don’t give room for fear, panic or anxiety. Our health authorities are putting in their best to ensure we are all safe. Prepare and consume hygienic and balanced diets, with adequate quantities of fruits and vegetables, as these would help boost your immune system to fight back if you are infected.
Follow recommendations and guidelines from the NCDC, FMoH (Federal Ministry of Health) and WHO (World Health Organization). Wash hands thoroughly and regularly (for at least 30 seconds) with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers when the former is unavailable; limit hand-shakes (opt for alternative modes of greeting instead: nods, waves, bows, elbow bumps, foot bumps, etc.); practise social (actually ‘physical’) distancing; stay away from sick people, and keep away from healthy people if you’re sick; practise proper respiratory hygiene; keep your hands away from your face (especially your mouth, eyes and nose); disinfect surfaces regularly. You can use a face mask, but not hand gloves. Hand gloves offer you a false sense of protection, but may actually be putting you and others, including your loved ones at risk of contracting the disease. They are meant to be used in health settings, by medics or paramedics. Nose masks when used must be replaced if damp, and disposed off properly; if it’s a cloth mask, you could wash, sun-dry and reuse it. Neither nose masks or handgloves are substitutes to regular handwashing. More so, foods, fruits and vegetables should be properly washed (or cooked, as the case may be) before consumption.
| Steer Clear of Fake News
Don’t heed or share information without first confirming their sources. There are lots of fake information roaming the streets and internet. Beware!
| Stitch in Time
Whether or not you’re sick, stay at home; don’t put family, friends and members of the public at risk of contracting the virus because of your negligence or carelessness.
For help, contact the NCDC Emergency Toll-free Help Lines: 080097000010, 08000CORONA or 08000267662.
Lassa Fever Updates
Even though the advent of COVID-19 appear to have overshadowed every other disease of humankind, it is needful to state that we are still battling with a thriving spread of Lassa Fever, and at least 973 cases and 188 deaths have been recorded in 2020 alone (as at April 12, 2020). Edo and Ondo states top the chart currently. Although the disease is sometimes asymptomatic, fever, weakness, headache, vomiting, muscle pains, diarrhoea, nausea and malaise are some of its common symptoms. Lassa fever is haemorrhagic; thus, in severe cases, blood flow from body orifices such as eyes, ears, nose, etc. may occur. There is currently no vaccine for Lassa fever, but the drug ‘Ribavirin’ has proven effective against the virus, and is currently used as a therapeutic for individuals suffering from the disease. As you take the recommended COVID-19 safety measures, don’t forget to store your foods in rodent-proof containers, keep your environment clean and report any suspected case(s) .
| References – Coronavirus Update (Live) | Worldometers
https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/countries-where-coronavirus-has-spread/ as at 1:30am (GMT+1), April 24, 2020. – Updates from the NCDC via Twitter @NCDVgov
https://mobile.twitter.com/NCDCgov as at 11:30pm (GMT+1), April 23, 2020.