How Negligence can aggravate the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria
Yesterday, I decided to take a stroll and jog around the neighbourhood. Since the lockdown order by the President, I had not set a foot out of my house. The streets were not empty, most people, like myself, were out to stretch their legs and keep our body fit – albeit maintaining minimum distance.
But as I passed by a garden, I saw a few numbers of youth playing football. FOOTBALL? I was livid!
I live in an area occupied by top-middle class and some elites – those that could have travel history or come in contact with a person that recently travelled. While this is not a potency for ascertaining the spread of COVID-19, it is a red flag that must be taken with serious caution.
I stopped attending congregational prayers since the first case of COVID-19 was announced at the Federal Capital Territory. It’s not paranoia, but my understanding of the virus and my neighbourhood signified absolute precautions. Yet, some educated and well-bred youth could not engage in any other exercise than football.
Historically, negligence isa key factor that aggravates the spread of pandemics. Major pandemics like HIV/AIDs (1976), Influenza Flu (1968) and the recent Ebola Virus (2014) were worsened due to negligible social behaviours amongst the people. Unfortunately, the Coronavirus is taking tolls of lives while people refuse to take precaution.
Certainly, the Coronavirus met the world unprepared, rather than focusing on immediate response, the actions of some global leaders have contributed towards worsening the situation for themselves and their people. The United States President, Donald Trump, referred to this pandemic as the Chinese Virus.
Rather than taking precautions and making necessary preparations, he was more focused on impeachment politics before the virus hit the country. America recorded 0ver 1000 deaths a day on 03 April 2020, the highest daily fatality since the outbreak.
Similarly, at the beginning of March, the United Kingdom Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, in a press conference, recklessly said he shook hands with victims of COVID-19 at the hospital – as against professional advice to maintain social distancing. On 27 March 2020, Boris announced to tested positive to the virus.
Since the virus hit the Nigeria on 28 February 2020, despite the Federal Government’s effort and display of commitment to control its spread, there was a display of scepticisms, lack of trust and disregard to precautions. Lagos is currently the epicentre of the virus, not only because it is the major gateway to the country but because many people in the state refused to heed to immediate instructions since the index case.
In Kwara State, the state government announced a partial lockdown on 26 March 2020. Despite the executive order, an Islamic scholar, a lecturer of the University of Ilorin, Dr Abubakar Ali-aghan held congregational Jumat service in his mosque. His excuse was that the virus had not reached Kwara state, hence no need to stop the congregational prayers. One needs no special class to understand the claim lacks logic.
The virus is not visible and can be asymptomatic –a carrier might not know he is infected. The Cleric might have believed, as he exhibited in his sermon, that praying to God would prevent him from contracting the virus. In a real sense, heaven helps those who help themselves.
Similarly, Funke Akindele, a popular Nollywood actor was arrested and prosecuted for organising a house party which got the social media agog. Despite her claims that everyone present at the party was already sheltering in place at her studios, she was fined for organising a social event against federal and state directives on total lockdown of Lagos state.
Since the outbreak of the virus in Nigeria, several myths and fake news have spread across social media. Instead of heeding to professional precautions from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Nigeria Centre for Diseases Control (NCDC) among other reputable sources, many people rely on hearsays. Know COVID-19 Nigeria, since its establishment on 20 March 2020, has been fighting this attitude by sensitising and encouraging people to listen to instructions and take the right precautions.
As the pandemic continues to spread, the best way to remain safe is not to take chances. Stay at home, maintain a social distance, wash your hands often, and hydrate your body often – these are similar advice and warnings we must abide with. Negligence is dangerous and can be destructive. We must obey instructions to sway this pandemic away from our society.
Abdulhakeem Abdulkareem is the Co-founder of Know COVID-19 Nigeria.
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