Coronavirus, Covid-19

Adebayo Obajemu

Just when most Nigerians are beginning to heave a sigh of relief after nearly nine months of lockdown and total paralysis of businesses by Coronavirus pandemic, what looks like the second wave of the deathly pandemic has emerged from the shadow like a bolt from the blue, further threatening the joy of most Nigerians at the prospect of a return to normalcy.
The haunting spectre has the potential to deepen recessionary state of the economy. Although this also coming at a time when there is rising hope of a vaccine for its prevention, the virus seems to be wreaking more danger in its second coming in Europe and U.S. Moreover, Nigeria is not expected to have the vaccine and sufficient volume until the first quarter of 2021.
Only last week, which witnessed a return to a regime of high figures of cases- Resident Doctors at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, warned that Nigerians should be wary of COVID-19 second wave as some patients discharged of COVID-19 in the past are coming down with the virus again even as they posited that recent event suggests the country is in the middle of another pandemic.
On Wednesday Nigeria recorded its highest haunting daily number of cases with 930 new infections. This came just five days after recording its previous highest daily figures of 796.
Until the resurgence of the infections in December, Nigeria never had a higher number of daily infections than the 745 reported in June.
These disturbing figures notwithstanding, some Nigerians believe the nation have seen the worst of the coronavirus, hence have been treating the guidelines with levity; and have since lowered their guards with the authorities also lax in enforcing the rules.
In response to the spiraling figures, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has also made a passionate appeal to Nigerians to take the COVID-19 prevention advisories very seriously, especially during the Yuletide festivities.
Onimisi Emeize, a professor of medicine at Kogi State University in a telephone chat with this newspaper warned that “government has not done enough or shown enough will to confront the rising spectre of second wave of the pandemic, saying “the federal authorities should enforce compliance to guidelines by the National Centre for Diseases Control.”
Already, the pandemic in its second wave has claimed the life of Major General Irefin, former General Officer Commanding, GOC, 81 Division, who was recently moved to Port Harcourt as GOC. There is a growing speculation that the Chief Justice of the Federation, Tanko Mohammed, may have also contracted the disease.
However, the spokesperson of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, Festus Akande, distanced himself from a statement by a justice of the court, Ibrahim Saulawa that the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Tanko Muhammad, had tested positive for COVID-19.
Justice Saulawa had at the unveiling of the national headquarters of the Muslim Lawyers’ Association of Nigeria (MULAN) on Tuesday in Abuja said Justice Muhammad was confirmed positive in Dubai.
In a statement on Tuesday in reaction to a story published by BusinessDay newspaper, Akande said it was not true that Mr. Muhammad was very ill and he had no information on the CJN’s COVID-19 status.
He said “there hasn’t been any indication made public or otherwise that has shown any anxiety over the CJN’s health.”
“The Hon. CJN, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad being unavoidably absent at a function is not enough to plunge into this premeditated conclusion there’s now ‘anxiety over his health’.
“The other aspect of this falsehood is the erroneous claim that the ‘CJN has not been seen in public for weeks’. We are still at a loss as to where the reporter got that malicious information from, as the CJN has been very active and even presided over the swearing in of the newly appointed Justices of the Supreme Court a few weeks back,” Mr. Akande said.
Some family members of Secretary to the Government of the Federation who also doubles as head of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, contracted the disease and have since along with SGF himself gone into isolation.
Babajide Sanwoolu, Lagos State governor also contracted the virus, and in isolation as confirmed by Professor Akin Abayomi, Lagos State commissioner for Health.
In a media chat with journalists, President of ARD LUTH, Dr. Judith Jolayemi called on all citizens of Nigeria, organizations, institutions and the government to return to the status quo by reinstating the previously initiated precautionary actions towards preventing the spread of the virus.
Jolayemi said: “Schools after vacating this month may be considered to remain closed until the epidemic curve begins to reverse. Government at all levels should continue to enforce laws regarding adherence to safety protocols, scale-up covid-19 testing, improve infrastructure and services across boarding including the airports and ensure the delivery of Covid-19 vaccines at the earliest time possible.”
Consequent upon high figures recorded in the country in recent days, Dr. Folarin Opawoye, a Senior Registrar at the LUTH COVID-19 Isolation Centre, said Nigerians attitude towards the non-pharmaceutical guidelines is responsible for the threat of a second wave, causing the country to lose the gains it achieved in the past.
Speaking further during a COVID-19 Awareness briefing, he said that despite the successes recorded in the fight against COVID-19, majority of the cases we are witnessing suggest huge community transmission.
“The reality is that reopening of the airport is not the major factor but what we are doing to ourselves. When you want to access COVID-19 response, I think we have done a good job because compare to what was predicted and what is going on in other parts of the world. However, we can’t rest on our success because it’s not about how we started but how we end.”
In a chat with BusinessHallmark, Dr. Funsho Adefisoye, a virologist at the University of Ilorin said, “The threat of the second wave is real. Nigerians have totally forgotten about Coronavirus, as if it has gone to outer space; nobody observes the guidelines and even governments at all levels are not enforcing the rules.”
Going further, he warned that the second lockdown will affect the economy “and the most affected will be you and me”.
In the past two weeks, Nigeria had an average of 500 daily cases. Last Tuesday alone, Nigeria reported 758 new coronavirus cases, its second-highest daily number since it recorded its first case of the virus in February.
The number is over 300 per cent higher than the 201 cases recorded the previous day and came four days after the country recorded its highest daily figure of 796. The previous record before the 796 was the 745 reported on June 19.
In nearly two weeks, daily cases in the country averaged 500 for the first time since the pandemic reached Nigeria in late February. The total number of infections in the country is 6 74,132.
Lagos and Abuja are the hardest hit cities and again had the highest numbers on daily basis. Three deaths were also recorded on Tuesday, bringing the country’s total fatalities to 1,200.
Meanwhile, of the over 74,000 infections recorded in Nigeria, 66,494 patients have been discharged from hospitals after treatment. The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 has also advised Nigerians to suspend their Christmas and New Year travels to reduce the risk of infection.
He said “there are so many other things we can do without going into another round of lockdown. If all of us can start wearing their nose mask, observe social and physical distance, and avoid unnecessary gathering and travelling as recommended by NCDC, the figures of infections will come down.”

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