In the unlikelihood that some people don’t know about the virus or how it works, let me explain. The coronavirus disease, COVID-19, which was first discovered in Wuhan, China in December 2019, is a highly infectious disease that attacks and ravages the respiratory system.
The virus is spread through saliva droplets and/or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Its most common symptoms include fever, sore throat and dry cough.
The disease has taken a First Class tour of the World without a visa or flight tickets. It has spread to almost all nooks and crannies of the World.
The World Health Organisation has told us that the most effective way to combat the virus is by washing our hands regularly and maintaining social distancing.
For a disease so deadly that has taken the lives of 274,408 people, it’s almost hard to believe that the most basic form of hygiene (handwashing) that has been drummed into our heads since childhood, can prevent transmission.
Governments around the world are struggling to manage the pandemic that is spreading like a wildfire and crippling even the best healthcare systems in the world.
One of the measures put in place by the Nigerian Government to curtail the spread of the virus was the total lockdown of three States, Lagos, Ogun and the Federal Capital Territory.
For those of us that live in the capital, Abuja, the lockdown was almost mind boggling. This is a town where driving is not a problem as the roads are mostly devoid of traffic and there are bridges that link to major Area Councils.
The most hit by the lockdown in my opinion are those with an active social life; this is because the clubs, bars, gardens and recreational centres were all shut during this period.
Most of these people actually had to re-learn how to stay at home and bond with their family members.
Parents are not excluded from this category of people; most of them actually got to know the true nature of their kids who would ordinarily spend the better part of the day in school.
This was definitely a moment of reflection for most individuals and families.
However, the Nigerian Government announced the gradual easing of the lockdown from the 4th of May, 2020 after 5 weeks.
This news was met with mixed reactions; some people called for an extension of the lockdown while others were excited to see the outside world again. For the excited ones, it seemed like they were about to gain their “freedom” after 5 weeks of “house imprisonment”.
Even though the government issued guidelines on measures to protect oneself and prevent the spread of the virus which had hit 3,526 confirmed cases with 107 deaths, people just wanted to be set free.
The day of reckoning arrived and as expected, Nigerians flocked the streets like migratory birds seeking greener pastures. Caution was thrown to the wind; government directives on wearing of facemasks and maintaining social distancing were blatantly flouted by some.
People flooded banks to carry out transactions that were pending for five weeks; others resumed businesses that had been shut or operating skeletally for five weeks. People basically forgot that the ease of lockdown was not the end of the pandemic.
I look at videos online and I marvel at the number of Nigerians rejoicing and enjoying their newfound “freedom.”
In as much as I hate to be a harbinger of bad news, I fear that this newfound freedom comes with a great price tag, our health.
Because of our relatively low testing capacity in the country, a lot of people may have the virus but remain undetected and asymptomatic.
Now some of these people have gone out to celebrate their new-found freedom and have come in contact with other people who for one reason or the other aren’t wearing face masks or don’t have hand sanitizers… the rest is history.
After celebrating the freedom we have bought with our health, we would all gather round at midnight to view the “live scores” reported by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control NCDC and scream “Oh my God, these cases are rising”.