Coronavirus: The 'Divine' Message Of The Italian Man That Nigeria Ignored


Gone are the days when people used to learn from experience. Nowadays, wise people prefer to learn from history because they might not recover or survive some real-life experiences. This applies to the Nigerian government's handling of the Coronavirus pandemic codenamed COVID-19 which broke out from Wuhan, China in late December 2019 and has infected 318,867 people with 13,676 others dead.

Nigeria has recorded about 27 needless cases across Lagos, Ogun, Abuja, Oyo and Ekiti States. The numbers are expected to rise as the virus' mode of operation entails. It spreads like wildfire and can always spiral out of control. The truth is that Nigeria has not only failed in learning from the past, we have also gained nothing from the present. This disease has been ravaging China since last year and the media has been agog with the successes and failures of the country in containing it.

The Chinese government has indirectly been able to lay a workable blueprint for the tackling of the unseen enemy. Some decent countries of the world have also been following these measures to protect their citizens. It appears that our leaders focused on the headlines in the news and ignored the body of the reports. Hence, the sole reason why we gained nothing from the situation.

Nigeria wouldn't have been at risk of any Coronavirus outbreak if it got the message Providence indirectly sent to her with the first imported case of the Italian man.

It might be a bit unfair to blame the Nigerian government for the entry of the Italian man due to the elusive nature of the disease which has a history of indicating 'false negative' when infected patients are tested during the incubation period of 1 to 14 days. Secondly, the fact that some patients could be asymptomatic and contagious also makes the disease more dangerous. Some carriers often pass through the Thermal Scanning systems at the airports without detection.

The discovery of the index case of the Italian man was a divine note of warning to Nigeria to put in measures to secure its borders but the government ignored and went to sleep with the doors open for intrusion. As at the 27th of February when the case of the Italian was recorded, Coronavirus was already ravaging the world with 82,294 cases globally. Then, Africa had just recorded three cases with Egypt and Algeria opening the dreadful register.

Fate gave Nigeria, a highly religious country a second chance, by limiting the spread of the disease to just another person who closely worked with the Italian in Ogun State. Calls from Nigerians suggested that the country should tighten it's immigration measures like other African countries like Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Senegal and others. This was coming in the face of a visa-on-arrival policy by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to boost foreign investments. The Federal Government ignored the yearnings of the people and kept on issuing non-committal press statements in the defence of its stand.

Just two measures could have saved Nigeria and her anaemic local economy from the threat of the Coronavirus and they are named below:

(1) Travel restriction/ban on affected countries.

(2) Mandatory quarantine of travellers as against 'self-isolation'

The first measure was later introduced when Nigeria recorded more cases. The second one is the most effective and it was reportedly started by China. Nigeria which could have set up a hotel or makeshift accommodation (tents) to quarantine suspected returnees from Coronavirus hotspots for two weeks chose the cheaper and riskiest option of 'self-isolation'. It's on record that an oil mogul and politician Tonye Cole who claimed to be on self-isolation after boarding a plane with an infected person has been freely attending public events. This is how the novel disease spreads.

As I examined the situation and body language of the government amidst the fear of an increase in Coronavirus cases after that of the Italian, it was as if the government wanted the disease badly and it has gotten it. Now we are about to pay the price, a much bigger one compared to that of the Ebola outbreak in 2014 which cost us eight fantastic lives.

Even as the disease continues to spread across Nigeria, there is this general lack of compliance with safety measures recommended by medical practitioners and other authorities. Some major religious organizations congregated today, Sunday above the specified numbers of attendees and a presidential media aide, Garba Shehu boldly organized a public lecture in one of the affected areas, Abuja. Additionally, due to stark ignorance and possibly illiteracy, a large section of Nigerians believe the disease is a hoax and another ploy by the government to embezzle state funds.

The gospel truth is that Nigeria isn't ready for an outbreak. 33 states can't boast of testing laboratories to discover cases and isolate them swiftly and we are dealing with a population of over 200 million people. There is a potential scarcity of drugs as we import over 70% of them from India. India is saving its drugs for rainy days as China which they source materials from is gradually rebuilding its economy. Same goes for face-masks which are mostly produced in China. We also lack the financial resources to mitigate the effect of an outbreak due to the dwindling price of crude oil in the international market.

The bottom line here remains that a stitch in time saves nine. Prevention is better than cure. Had the government understood the indirect warning message brought by the Italian possibly from above, Nigeria would have been saved of the uncertainties that lie ahead today.

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About Osahon

I'm a journalist and a Political Scientist undergoing a doctoral programme focused on media, democracy and governance in Africa. My mission is to uphold the role of the media as the 'fourth estate of the realm' and also tell the Nigerian Story to the world. You can contact me on Phone number: +2347053302356.
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