I have been worried about the rising case of infection among nigerians daily and it becomes worrisome that what we thought was a foreign infection has now taken a seat in our country.
The Government has done it’s best to prevent the spread, provide medical care and support for patients. In its efforts to do so, government has created many test centres, isolation centres, treatment centres as well as fumigating the environment to stop its spread.
Following on that was the lockdown of Lagos, Ogun and FCT and provision of supports to the vulnerable in our society which is good.
The Private sector have also come to support and we should all commend government as well as all those who support it for doing wonderfully well.
However, despite all these, we have been having a steady climb in the rate of infection as community infection has set in coupled with the breakdown of law and other in some areas including the breaking of the lockdown rules.
It is because of these that I write to advise the Government to look into the following areas to improve the situation at hand.
The World Health Organisation, WHO has predicted that about 10 million Africans will be infected with the virus. Nigeria has about 17% of Africa’s population , meaning that about 1.7 million Nigerians are likely to be infected. This is alarming and a concerted efforts is needed to defeat this pandemic.
Yes government has locked down the country for about four months now but lockdown without testing is a waste. Government need to be aggressive with its testing capacities because the truth is that, the more we test the more we have more cases.
Our cases are few today because our tests are few. Let us bring test centres into many communities and equip it to promptly do test rather than asking people to wait until they see symptoms. This will mean some people will be close to dying before they are detected. This must be of high priority.
Following on this is the creation of isolation centre to cope with the number of cases that will arise from more testing. Wealthy Nigerians should emulate GTB and other private sector donor. For instance major event centres can make available their facility to save funds that would have been used to build new ones.
Government can then commission Foam manufacturing industries as well as textile companies to come in and provide bed and beddings that will make an isolation or even treatment centres spring up fast.
There is also confusion about the number to call when you noticed someone who appeared infected. Rather than the 08000CORONA that is confusing even to the literate, what is stopping lagos state government from using the popular emergency toll free numbers 112/767 which lagosians are already familiar with?
All it need to do is to first put the system in the Call Center in good condition, get medical support staff trained in handling calls dedicated to Covid 19 from where care in form of calming callers down and letting them know help will come.
They should also take their details and pass on to field operatives that will immediately swing into action and get to the person.
Such field operatives should immediately call the caller back to inform them that they are coming and take further information on the go. This will work better than this new style where existing infrastructure is neglected whereas these are part of the reasons the call centre was set up.
Stigmatisation is also a very worrying part of the challenge. I listened to Mrs Eyamba Dafinone on Arise News explaining how she went through infection and got well. Mrs Dafinone is courageous and that won the battle for her. The woman and some other survivors should be used as the face of the next phase of the campaigns and not any other persons who cannot explain the situation.
We should know that Covid 19 is not a sexually transmitted disease and anybody can be infected even right in your home if you’re careless. Our people should not stigmatise those infected. They need our love, support and prayers to go through it and win.
It is good that government has embarked on various palliative measures to alleviate the sufferings of the less privileged among us and the old and vulnerable. I however do not think the sharing of rice, beans and indomie is helping in the efforts to curb the spread of this deadly virus. At such sharing centres, what we have are a crowd of unruly people, consisting of mainly young able bodied Nigerians majority of who are not envisaged in this arrangement. No respect for social distancing.
Rather than share rice, the food court initiatives will work better but not the way it is being done now where badly prepared and inadequate ration are being served to people like beggars.
Government should not make emergency millionaires of some people but rather engage reputable and well know eateries with capacities to produce in large numbers, cooked food all over lagos and therefore get vehicles to take them into centres that should be provided in wards, churches and mosques where those the food are meant for are registered and everybody knows his own centre and the number.
If you are not registered in a place, you dont have any business going there. Daily rations of those who have been registered is taken there daily and any unknown face that shows up is easily identified and taken away.
Let us respect the dignity of our people even in this period of national crisis.
I also remember that the effect of these lockdown especially on the jobless youths has brought the crime rate to an all time high.
Rather than engage these boys in terror for terror as we witness these days when street boys arm themselves in wait for the so called 1 million boys, government can reach them through the Nigeria police and engage them as fumigators, cleaners and gardeners at isolation centres or to follow trucks from the food courts to help share as well as using them to gather intelligence on crime.
Those to be used must be quickly trained, well kitted for their assignment, provide them food as well as pay for their services. Sone of them will sure get involved and whoever decide to go into crime despite this must be made to face the law.
On the part of the general public, we must make sure we do not stigmatise those infected, we must follow all of the instructions of government on personal hygiene, social distancing, washing of our hands, use of alcoholic based sanitizer, use of face mask while also ensuring we train our children and old people who are barely literate on how to use these materials.
We should also continue to be our brother’s keeper by helping a neigbour in need. We should report nocturnal movement of people within our community while we avoid unholy gathering of miscreants and undesirable elements.
Parents should ensure their wards are monitored and not allowed to join boys who run round with arms to fight for the defence of their so called territory. Let us trust the law enforcement agencies to do their work and provide adequate and timely information.
The police and other security agencies should respect the right of Nigerian and demonstrate high sense of responsibility in the course of duty. If we all work together with government, we can win this battle with less collateral damage.
While am sure we can also add other ideas, I wrote this as a catalyst to provoke public engagement to do better than we are currently doing.