Resident wear masks to buy vegetables in the market on January 23th, 2020 in Wuhan, China. Getty Images, CNBC

Adebayo Obajemu

Just when the world was heaving a sigh of relief that the dreaded and catastrophic COVID-19 pandemic was gradually receding, given the low numbers recorded in many countries across the globe, the pandemic made a tragic comeback with vengeance venting it’s anger in many countries such as Chile, Brazil, United States, United Kingdom, France and Germany among others.
The virulence with which it’s prosecuting its war on global populations is mind -boggling.
In Nigeria, the figures for new infections have been going down for the past one month, a development that has led the federal and state governments to relax restrictions on movement.
In the past week, the number of daily new infections has been less than hundred.
Schools have reopened with enough guidelines on facemask and hand -washing, and in some states, such as Lagos , private tertiary institutions have reopened, though federal government-owned tertiary institutions are yet to open, and civil service of the lower cadre have not been asked to resume fully.

There is fear of the possible resurgence in Nigeria as flight and movement across borders have been relaxed.
Many health experts who spoke to this newspaper have expressed worry.
Dr. John Akingba, medical director Fortune Hospital said ” I honestly share the Academic Staff Union of Universities’, ASUU, position that government should still exercise caution about school reopening. It is too early, given what we are witnessing in Europe, Latin America and US. Besides, the low numbers being witnessed is not a true reflection of correct position. Most states are now showing apathy to testing , so out there are numbers of new infections not known since there are not tested.”
He further told this newspaper that ” until governments show more responsibility, we will continue to put our population in danger.”

A clinical virologist, Professor Bode Olufeagba in an interview with this medium said ” There is general apathy now even in official circles as if Coronavirus is dead and buried. This attitude is dangerous. It is not yet Uhuru, and numbers of testing have reduced. With this, how can identify new carriers. Even in advanced countries that have the technology they are being careful. When some of them relaxed restrictions,the pandemic has come back with vengeance.”

Already the total number of infections has climbed to 57,437, with fatalities put at 1,100, and about 48,674 people have recovered from it in Nigeria.

Already there are growing concerns in Europe at what is being seen as an alarming rise in coronavirus cases.

The number of new daily infections has reached record highs in some countries.

Targeted lockdowns and restrictions are returning across the continent.

This new wave of the pandemic in Europe according to World Health Organization is a “wake up call.”

“We have a very serious situation unfolding before us,” WHO’s regional director for Europe, Hans Kluge, said Thursday in a press briefing on the epidemiological situation in the region.

“Weekly cases have now exceeded those reported when the pandemic first peaked in Europe in March.”

He stated that, last week, the region’s weekly number exceeded 300,000 patients.

“More than half of European countries have reported a greater-than-10% increase in cases in the past two weeks. Of those, seven countries have seen newly reported cases increase more than two-fold in the same period,” he added.

While lockdown measures imposed in the spring and early summer pushed the number of new cases in June to an all-time low, the number of cases in September “should serve as a wake-up call for all of us,” he warned.

There have been growing concerns in Europe for a number of weeks at what is being seen as an alarming rise in coronavirus cases, with the number of new daily infections reaching record highs in some countries.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) warned Wednesday that the 14-day case notification rate (the number of newly reported cases) for the EU, European Economic Area and the U.K. “has been increasing for more than 50 days, with over half of all EU countries currently experiencing an increase in cases.”

Spain, which has the highest number of confirmed coronavirus infections in Europe at 614,360, according to data collated by Johns Hopkins University (JHU), is reportedly set to announce targeted lockdowns in places where the virus is spreading rapidly, and renewed restrictions of movement on Friday.

Meanwhile in France, the number of new daily cases reported Wednesday(9,784) was among the highest ever reported in the country. It was just below an all-time record of 10,561 new cases recorded on Saturday.  The number of people being treated in intensive care units for Covid-19 also rose for the 20th straight day Wednesday, Reuters reported, to a three-month high of 803.

The total number of cases in France stands at 404,888, according to the French Health Ministry.

The U.K., which has the third-highest number of cases in Europe, at 380,677 according to JHU data, has seen an alarming rise in cases across various parts of northern England in recent weeks. It has started to reintroduce measures to restrict social gatherings, with the number of people allowed to meet now limited to six in England. Stricter measures targeting north-east England could be announced Thursday, the BBC reported.

Italy, which was the epicenter of Europe’s first coronavirus outbreak in February but now has the fourth-highest number of reported infections, at 291,442 to date, has also seen cases rise. The health ministry said Wednesday that Italy has registered 1,452 new cases in the last 24 hours, up from 1,229 new cases on Tuesday, although this was partly attributed to a sharp increase in coronavirus tests, news agency ANSA reported.

In Brazil, Chile, India and Colombia among other Latin America epicenters, the numbers have continued to climb.

Nonetheless, the health ministry noted that Italy is seeing the highest number of active cases since June, with 40,532 people currently infectedwith the coronavirus.

Germany, which was seen as a poster-child for its handling of the first wave of the coronavirus cases, having managed to keep its death toll low compared to its number of cases, has seen a slight rise in cases.

In view of the new wave in Europe, many experts advise Nigerian government to reconsider it’s decision to relax rules without adequate preparation and sensitization of the danger of not obeying the National Centre for Dieases’ rules and guidelines.
Efforts to speak the federal ministry of Health proved abortive, as official line on its website was not going.

(With report from Reuters)


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