There I was, in the living room with my siblings at noon. It was probably a week day, but there was no need to know which one. I was in the clothes I wore the day before. It wasn’t like I was going anywhere. In fact, at this point, personal hygiene and grooming feels overrated. My younger brother is, for the lack of better words, academically stranded at this point. He is done with his secondary education and was gearing up for his entry exams into university when the news of the lockdown’s sequel reached us. I now find it hard to even encourage study consistency in him. Anyway, I was diligently working on my double-stops and chord tehniques for Bach’s Sonata I: Fugue in G minor. I had to make sure my intonation and dynamics were in pristine condition, but my violin was not experienced in such virtuoso techniques. Well, the lazy worker, they say, always blames his tools.
In the middle of the rigorous but somewhat stagnant practice, I started thinking. The night before, we received the grim news of the possible indefinite postponement of our already fragile chance of resumption to my university this early in the year. Thoughts went through my mind, “Was I going to be a doctor soon?” “Should I start learning a trade or looking for a job?” ”Is it wise to continue studying, hoping that we would resume soon?” “Should I also start crypto business before bitcoin gets too expensive to buy?” ”When will I be able to eat bread and groundnut as night food or even receive pocket money for that matter…..” I was pulled out of the sea of thoughts by the going-off of my timer. I packed up my instrument after browsing through the music piece I was working on. I had made a little progress, but it was way better progress than what I have recorded officially in my university education in almost a year. But who was I to complain? Everyone is in it together! We all had our roles in this resurgence and we all have to bear the consequences. The menace is worse than ever and now we all have to look over our heads to avoid the Grim Reaper’s scythe!
According to the Nairametrics COVID-19 tracker, caseloads dropped significantly between September and November of last year. Even though prior to the occurrence, many Nigerians had already thrown caution to the wind, the government relaxed lockdowns, closed isolation centres and opened up the economy. The storm was finally getting still! To our surprise actually, the Nigerian government had to reopen isolation and treatment centres in the country on the 10th of December due to the increased number of cases. Only 7 days later, from 7,125 test samples taken across the country, Nigeria recorded a whopping 930 confirmed COVID-19 cases nation-wide! This very incidence secured us a pass into the second wave of the very pandemic that held us at ransom for most of the year. As if that of last year’s ending wasn’t enough, on the 7th of January, Nigeria recorded 1,565 confirmed new cases across 25 states and the Federal Capital Territory. This figure pushed the total number of confirmed cases to 95,934 and 1,330 casualties. The most recent statistics show the total cases exceeding a hundred thousand and also about a hundred more deaths in a few days.
Lagos, the economical centre of the nation is the most plagued of the states. It is the epicentre of the pandemic in the country with 22,562 cases and 220 death. The Grim Reaper was no respecter of persons, like in its first production. Among the latest casualties were a former VC of the University of Lagos, Professor Oyewusi Ibidapo-Obe who died on January 3, a retired professor of science education at the same university, Duro Ajeyalemi, Haroun Hamzat, a medical doctor as well as the younger brother of the deputy governor of the Lagos State who all died on January 6. What a sad news on the last day of the 12 days of Christmas! Lagos scarily recorded its highest number of infection in one day: 712 recently! As a resident of Ogun state, there is a temptation to feel relaxed, seeing that we have only had 2,103 cases and 31 deaths so far. However, there is a possibility of diffusion to our side seeing that Ogun state and Lagos state share a connection geographically, economically and road-wise.
Enough with the woes and numbers! If this angel of trial is to pass over us with as little as possible new casualties, we have to look back, around and even in front. These directions hold the key to generation of a sustainable solution.
Nigeria as a whole had very poor medical preparation for any type of global health issue! Our facilities are in very bad shape, we do not effectively encourage and sponsor research if we do any at all and our medical personnel are getting “ babysitting” pays in comparison to their foreign counterparts. The health sector is undermanaged, underdeveloped and underrated when in fact, millions of dollars are spent each year by the high and mighty for medical treatment outside of the country. If the coronavirus started its spread from Nigeria, we could not have handled it the way China did! Fine, our economy is not in the best of shapes, but we have enough funds to set up a couple solid facilities. If we are to defeat this virus and any possible successor, we need to look back at the amount of stress and trouble that we could have saved ourselves if we had invested well in our health sector. We lose many bright doctors each year to other countries because these countries have better working conditions. Without good health, the economy is inevitably wounded. So why not invest in it?
As they say; no body is an island. We aren’t even that rich! Hence, we need to look around countries that have tried different approaches to reducing the rate of spread and the underlying consequences. Learning from them will help us avoid making mistakes. China and New Zealand enforced strict travel bans and rapidly deployed test and trace systems. Czech Republic and Hungary had a wonderful start, but are now on the losing side because of relaxation of public health measures. Germany and South Korea (which was among the first nations to announce a second wave) have one of the fastest large scale testing and tracing systems. It has helped them to localize and identify where and how the virus is spreading. South Africa went into one of the world’s strictest lockdowns. Countries like Australia, Bahamas, Iceland, New Zealand and even Somalia each have lesser cases than those found in Lagos alone! All these data can be gathered and used to analyze how we can improve our chances and choices.
More importantly, looking into the future
The two solutions to the pandemic are prevention or cure, and for now we only have preventive measures. The Pfizer vaccine we intend to get from the United Kingdom might come later than expected and it is still a preventive measure. The most important measures are wearing of face masks, social distancing and washing of hands. Simple enough! Looking forward will help us realize that the decisions we make today will decide the amount of possible waves are in our future. The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force, Mr Boss Mustapha, lamented at the nonchalant attitude of Nigerians to the virus. What many don’t know is that space and personnel are limited. The more the patients, the more the strain on the frontline fighters! We also don’t know the chances of our individual recovery! What if you have a compromised immune system? The life we all imagine and want for ourselves is now at the mercy of our choices today. Do you want to see your children dead? If no, then wear a mask! Do you want to lose your job because of a lockdown? If no, wash your hands! Our government is not left out too. Their ability to avoid being selfish and their insight into the fact that Nigeria will always remain their homes even if they have properties abroad will help them make decisions that will help guarantee safety for all. Looking forward
I would love to conclude by stating the obvious.Things can be hard in times like this and uncertainty of the events that this year holds can make everything seem gloomy too early. However, the disease doesn’t care. While trying to make ends meet, precautions would not be a bad idea. Besides, those who fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat.
Will this sequel to the tragic incidence of our lifetime be an unfortunate blockbuster? Our actions and inactions will decide. For now, don’t be an inconsiderate idiot! Wear a mask!
Oluremi Daniel Ayanfeoluwa from Abeokuta in Ogun state is a young student, a classical musician in training, a Christian and a science enthusiast. He also loves dogs, fashion, photography and intellectual stuff. Hr can be reached via email@example.com