Over 100 days since the first case of Covid-19 was confirmed in Nigeria, the number of cases has increased to over 14,000 spread across all states in the nation as confirmed by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). In the face of these increasing numbers, the country gradually eases lockdown restrictions and commercial activities are resuming already. As well as Nigeria, some other countries are beginning to ease lockdown restrictions, but the fight against the pandemic is not over.
Globally, there are millions of lives affected by the pandemic and in the absence of a vaccine; certain guidelines must be put in place to curb the transmission within states and between countries. It is at times like this that we truly reckon that health is indeed wealth and a vital part of a country’s growth, hence this should not serve only as a challenge, but also as a wake-up call to the government to work on and improve the health system of the country.
Certain efforts implemented such as the increased awareness and enlightenment of the populace, the restriction of movement, the close of inter-state travel and the increased testing capacity are instrumental in the fight against Covid-19 yet more work still needs to be done. As of date, only about 85,375 tests have been carried out in a population with about 200 million people. This number of tests is too low and not sufficient to fully depict the state of spread in the country. Despite the comparatively lower number of cases in the region as seen globally, there is a high possibility for Africa to suffer more cases if efforts are not intensified and testing capacity increased. The current compulsory use of nose masks is also necessary for reducing the spread, but as much as the use of nose masks is enforced, the hygiene of such masks should be encouraged as well particularly the fabric nose masks.
“You can’t replace lockdown with nothing”, said Dr. Mike Ryan, Executive Director of the World Health Organization’s emergency program. It further implies that actions are necessary when the lockdown conditions are being eased. One of such measures is increasing testing capacity. Drive-through diagnostic centers make it easy for sample collection for Covid-19 testing. More testing centers are necessary across the country where people can easily walk in and get tested. Test centers located close to airports will aid the testing of incoming travelers in the country.
Another vital measure is the frequent decontamination of surfaces. Despite social distancing guidelines, there’s a need for schools, workplaces, places of worship, and banks to decontaminate all surfaces regularly with proper disinfectants. This will help prevent transmission via droplets that settle on these surfaces.
There’s a need for integration of the health system for early reporting of cases and an effective model for contact tracing. In the United Kingdom, the NHS contact tracing app is being tested and will soon be deployed for use in the whole population. The app works on Bluetooth technology and is useful in tracing contacts of patients diagnosed with patients. Such type of application in Nigeria will greatly assist the health professionals in contact tracing. The need to scale up surveillance actions can not be overestimated as well. According to the WHO conditions for ending a lockdown, health systems should be in place to “detect, test, isolate, treat every case and trace every contact”. It is thus, of paramount importance that the Nigerian health system improves rapidly to test, treat, and trace contacts of every case. Another requirement is the provision of measures in responding to the risk of importing new cases.
Preventive measures increased awareness and welfare monitoring should be encouraged in workplaces, schools, and other essential places where workers suspected of the disease are quickly reported to the appropriate health authorities, and transmission is effectively curbed. As individuals, we are urged to embrace this new normal by adhering to necessary preventive measures such as hygiene, use of nose masks, and social distancing. Try to avoid crowded places and unnecessary contact. Curbing this pandemic is not just a duty of the government alone, but the responsibility of everyone. Amidst resumption of activities, it is important that everyone adheres to the prevention guidelines and more work is done by the government to strengthen the fragile health system.
© The Eastern Herald
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