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Opinion

COVID-19: Is Nigeria Prepared?

By Ifunanya Ndukwe

Is Nigeria ready for the corona-virus?” This is the most frequently asked question presently in Nigeria. I would say, we are not ready. The over confidence coming from the place of, “we fought off ebola” has made Nigeria to be careless in handling of this deadly global virus.

The United States, Europe, China and other most hit countries, including some African countries placed a travel ban. But, Nigeria waited for the cases to rise before issuing a travel ban. Looking for passengers from the previous plane that carried a person that tested positive to the virus. If these passengers have contracted the virus, in a country like Nigeria, how do we locate them all? What is the possibility that those confirmed positive in the country are the only ones with the virus? Are we ready for the worse? Are we prepared?

The country currently has limited testing kits, in just very few states. Our testing capacity is so poor, and there is a possibility that thousands could have been infected. Are we to transport suspected patients from one state to the other to be tested or do we keep sending samples to states that have the testing kit? How many states have isolation centers ready. How equipped are these centers? How big are these centers? How many patients can they take in?

It is unfortunate that the health system in Nigeria is so messed up that the big wigs can’t travel out for medical check ups anymore. We are all stuck here with our poor health system. Again, are we ready for the worst case scenario? The awareness campaign is so poor that the people in the rural areas are ignorant of the virus. Even some in the urban areas have refused to believe the existence of the virus.

While some medium are doing all they can to sensitize the people, some people have dedicated their time to create fake news about the virus to scare people. Taxi/bus drivers have refused to be sensitive to reduce the number of passengers in their vehicles. Some people have decided to be religious about the whole issue.

So many malls, offices, entries have also failed to provide the basic hand sanitizer in their buildings. Are we ready? False information about the coronavirus is spreading on the social media. It is important to know that you should rely only on conventional media (radio, TV, newspaper, etc) for information or verified social media accounts of government agencies. And be mindful of side talks, social media rants, unsolicited messages.

It is also important to know that there is no cure or vaccine yet. Until a cure is found and distributed world wide, stay safe, remain indoors and observe social distancing.

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