By KEMI FISAYO
The outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic that had begun in China has, among other things, denied several Nigerians the opportunity of returning to the countries where they are based or which they travel to for business transactions. Many businesses in Nigeria are already counting their losses as a result of the development.
A dealer in electronics, who was billed to travel to China a few days before the outbreak became public, shared his experience:
“I was to travel towards the end of January to buy goods; electronic items. I usually go there to buy those things for my shop. It was during my preparation to do so that the announcement came about the Coronavirus. It also affected some of my colleagues. This has slowed down our business, but then it is only the living that can talk about business. I am even happy that I had not travelled before the announcement,” the businessman said.
Experts believe that the impact of Coronavirus especially as it has to do with China’s stranglehold over the Nigerian economy is greatly felt as a good number of Nigerians travel to China every day to transact businesses.
There is also the effect of the pandemic on health workers and the health sector. Mrs Ogundipe, a nurse who works with the Lagos State General Hospital on the Island said preventive measures are put in place before attending to any patient. These she notes, include, washing of the hands and use of face masks and gloves. Also, before admitting any patient into the ward, they check their temperature if is high and requiring further assessment. So far no case of infection has been recorded in the hospital.
In some other places like restaurants, eateries and banks in Lagos, before you are allowed to enter the security personnel check your temperature and also once you enter you will be directed to use hand sanitizers first before you are allowed to proceed further.
Churches are not exempt from those taking preventing measures because of their large number of worshippers. In the Catholic Church, the sign of peace whereby people shake hands during Holy Communion has been suspended. During the last Holy Ghost Service at the Redemption Camp, hand sanitizers were made available all over the camp as ushers and some other teams were holding it at a strategic place and even within the auditorium. Members were encouraged to use it as many times as possible. Some churches also now have hand sanitizers, which are made available for members after they must have also first washed their hands before entering into the church.
With the suspension of religious and social gatherings with over 50 in Lagos and Ogun states, to prevent the possible incidence of further spread of Coronavirus. This is more so after five new cases were confirmed on Wednesday, March 18, 2020. The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) has also altered its mode of services in its parishes in Lagos and Ogun States in compliance with both state governments’ directive to curb coronavirus. They are also encouraged to tune in to Dove Television every Sunday to watch a live telecast of Pastor Adeboye’s sermons.
Prophet T.B. Joshua of the Synagogue of All Nations, SCOAN has also reacted to the ban on religious gatherings placed on Churches and Mosques by the Lagos and Ogun State governments. According to the founder of SCOAN, church members should adhere to the instructions.
He noted that the government was appointed by God and hence the need to obey their directives.
His statement which was released via the church’s Facebook page read, “Viewers, listen to your government and obey the instructions given to you. For example, instructions concerning gathering at this time.”
“They are authorities established by God (Romans 13). A good Christian is a good citizen. Whatever life brings, you are not alone. We are on our knees praying for you and your nation. God bless you as you obey. Jesus is Lord!”
Also, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) directed churches in the country to avoid gatherings of more than 50 people as a precaution against the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It also suggested the adoption of cell-based or online services, and shifts of not more than 50 individuals per session. The House on the Rock Church, Lagos has presently moved all of its services online.
Similarly, the Ansar-Ud-Deen Society of Nigeria also suspended mosque activities involving more than 50 people. “We acknowledge that many of our members and mosque users might find this unprecedented decision very uncomfortable, we should please be reassured that this is for the good of the community and it is in compliance with the Islamic response to a pandemic,” said the society’s spokesman, Muhammed Hassan. Other groups such as Nasrul-lahi-li Fathi Society of Nigeria (NASFAT); Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN), Lagos State Area Unit and the Lekki Muslim Ummah (LEMU) have also instructed their members to pray at home.
On the educational sphere, Lagos State has also directed the closure of public and private schools from Monday, March 23. Seven out of the eight cases of Coronavirus that Nigeria has recorded as at Thursday, March 19, 2020, are in the Lagos area. A statement endorsed by Commissioner for Education, Mrs Folashade Adefisayo, said schools’ closure became expedient in order to prevent teachers and their pupils from contracting the deadly disease in the state where six confirmed cases were already quarantined as at the time her statement was being made. Even before now, according to a teacher, Mr Soyoye Emmanuel, since the first outbreak of the virus, his school’s excursion to Nike Art Gallery in Lekki and also Honeywell Flour Mills PLC, Ikeja was cancelled at a late hour by the management of the two organisations. He later said up till Thursday 19th March, some schools were still going for an excursion while some are planning to go next week but now that schools have been closed, they would need to reschedule as everything needs to be done to help prevent the spread of the virus.
As at Thursday, 19th March 2020, 4 people were also confirmed as having been affirmed positive making the total of suspect cases 12. With this increased number of people being infected, everyone has started taking preventive measures not only in Lagos but also all over the country at large. While speaking with Miss Odunola in Ekiti, she said that before the Ekiti case, people living over there just go about their normal lives with almost no care but after the first case broke in the state, everyone has literally now begun to walk on tenterhooks and take basic precautions.
At the political level, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) postponed bye-elections that were to have been conducted in four senatorial districts indefinitely. Spokesman for the commission, Barrister Festus Okoye, however, said the governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States scheduled for September and October 2020 were not at the moment affected. The affected senatorial polls are for the Bayelsa Central, Bayelsa West, Imo North, and Plateau South Senatorial Districts.
The National Assembly also, following a two-hour emergency meeting, equally announced the immediate suspension of all legislative hearings and the closure of its public gallery. The action, which takes effect from next Tuesday, is expected to halt the process of lawmaking almost completely.
COVID-19 is surely upon us! God help Nigeria. Amen.