COVID-19: Stemming down a second wave with decisive move on risk factors

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The fast spread of COVID-19, the dangerous second wave has come with some reservations which call for utmost attention. On Monday, the  Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) made touching revelations that the country is moving towards a critical state where hospital capacity may no longer be able to accommodate. The threats that this undesirable condition poses to Nigeria is a recipe of troubles unhealthy for the chains of circumstantial disorder bewildering the Country at present.

In a series of tweets on Monday, the Director-General of the NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, had said that the number of coronavirus cases reported in the Country had been on the rise in the last four weeks. To reiterate the veracity of the reality of the virus and its spreading potency, the NCDC boss said Nigerians must note that the 100,000 cases that contracted COVID-19 across the Country in the last 11 months were not just figures but actual  persons. He had tweeted thus: “We are reaching a critical level where our hospital capacity will no longer be able to cope with more serious COVID-19 cases and health workers will be forced to make tough decisions. We need to protect our more vulnerable citizens. We all have to take responsibility. This is not for the NCDC, the PTF or government alone. By organising large gatherings indoors, you’re not only putting yourself and guests at risk, but also the staff who have limited choice but to serve. By going to clubs, you’re putting your parents at risk. In the last four weeks, we‘ve recorded a spike in the number of new COVID-19 cases. The virus is spreading fast, causing mild symptoms in some and severe illness/death in others. Most important of all, the 100,000 cases and over 1,000 deaths are not just numbers. These are fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, children, friends whose deaths will be mourned and the pain of their loss deeply felt. The response starts and ends with the people of this country.”

At a press conference of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on Monday, Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora, had disclosed that the result from the tests conducted on prospective National Youth Service Corps members had established the fact that no part of the Country is free of COVID-19.

One of the reservations raised over factors contributing to the fast spread of the virus in the second wave is the recent National Identity Number (NIN) registration processes by the National Identity Management Commission. It would be recalled that the Federal Government had last December ordered telecommunications companies to disconnect telephone lines of subscribers who fail to link their NIN to their subscriber identification modules. The development had since mid-December last year, occasioned mammoth crowds gathering at NIMC offices and centres across the Country for fear of not being disconnected. It is on record that over 164 million Nigerians risk having their lines getting barred over the directive. The disarray character of the process is one that has left crowds of people struggling to get the process done at the expense of the safety protocols against COVID-19.

Following the poor coordination of the process, the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora, had earlier on Monday on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily programme, said the Federal Government might soon suspend the registration for the NIN exercise. The Minister was quoted: “My understanding is that the whole process may be suspended so as to reorder the whole process in terms of management of the crowd because it was never intended that it would become a rowdy process like that. So people may have to wait and be called at intervals to go through the process.”

However, in a U-turn position later at a press conference of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on Monday, the Minister ruled out the suspension or postponement of the NIN process, attributing the challenges on the attitude of Nigerians. Mamora who stressed the need to avoid crowding as observed under the guise of NIN enrolment had later said: “There is absolutely no cause for this, if only people would voluntarily comply with advisories and guidelines as issued by the Ministry of Communications and its relevant agency. The statement credited to me on the social media as to the suspension of the exercise is out of context, hence misleading. For the avoidance of doubt, Mr. President’s order on the matter remains as being carried out by the relevant ministry.”

It is paramount that the Government act strategically and responsively in policy actions on key factors responsible for the recent fast spread of the virus across the Country. Among the facts include the unguarded increase in local and international flights, the reopening of schools — primary and secondary schools — and loosening the cords of enforcement of COVID-19 protocols across the Country. The necessity to take decisive actions to restrict conducts on these subjects is paramount to stem down the tide of the spread of the virus. The need to review the directives on conducts and activities that bear huge risk to heightening the spread of the virus is essential for the prevailing situation.

It is paramount for the Government to forthwith review its directives over the NIN registration which have continually been largely anchored on unhinged processes. The need to develop better working patterns for the coordination of the exercise is key to inject sanity into the process. The prevailing uncoordinated patterns where mammoth crowd gather to struggle in getting the registration done, is a reflection of insensitivity with the tendency of heightening the spread of the virus in an unhealthy atmosphere. It is therefore significant for the Government to work with the NIMC to restrategise its idiosyncratic measures of enrollment or better still put the process to a hold pending when situation returns to normal to have the processes well coordinated.

The fast spread of the virus is undesirable for the Country. It constitutes a distraction which is unhealthy for neither the Government nor the populace. It is therefore  paramount for all to work coherently to combat the virus. The necessity to jettison the prevailing orientation of the populace about the virus as a scam by the Government to siphon public funds is highly important. On the part of the  citizens, the need to begin to abide by the established protocols to guide against the spread of the virus is key to prevent the possibilities of an uncontrollable spread that may inform a lockdown. Moving to such undesirable end is calamitous when consideration is given to the clusters of challenges deserving optimum attention in the Country. The compendium of socio-economic  deformities ravaging Nigeria call for full attention by the Government. A distraction by COVID-19 is highly counteractive to this necessity. It is therefore essential for both the Government and the Nigerian populace to work in harmony in the fight to flatten the curve of the virus.