Prior to the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria, many false stories have bombarded the media. Many Nigerians wrongly believe they are immune to the virus because of some of these false information. While some stated that the country’s temperature could combat the virus, others bask in the misconception that Africans cannot contract the virus for whatever reasons. All these have now become a thing of the past. Almost everyone now believes that the virus is real and no one is absolutely immune to it.
The Lagos state Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, appears to have been very proactive in trying to contain the virus as well as intimating the people on the steps being taken. In as much as such a step is commendable, many are of the opinion that the severity of the Coronavirus pandemic in Lagos state and Nigeria at large is being downplayed. Foreign media as well as the World Health Organisation have expressed fear that the number peddled by African countries may likely not reflect the real number of cases in the continent.
A similar sentiment has been shared by different messages on the social media. One of such is an audio recording circulating on Whatsapp. Although said to be false by social media users, the speaker in ‘The VN’ claims to have an inside details of what is playing out in Nigeria. According to him, the Nigerian government is not being sincere about the numbers of Coronavirus cases in the country. He even went ahead to state that the World Health Organisation has projected up to 45million deaths in the country if it is not properly contained!
More worrisome is the rumour that Nigeria intends to buy protective gears already used by Chinese doctors. Most of these wears are being disposed immediately after use as it might be infected. The reason for this, as claimed, is the poor state of the country’s finances. This however does not justify such a ‘silly’ step, if it were true.
In as much as the government failed to take proactive steps before the Coronavirus cases were recorded in Nigeria, opinion leaders across different sectors of the country should have been more responsible. Different categories of justification have been given by these people. The ‘Religious’ ones believe the virus will never affect them because they are true believer; some conspiracy theorists say the virus is false while other comically opine that the United States developed the Coronavirus to destroy China’s economy. All these are far from reality and should not be given even an iota of importance.
The Religious leaders play huge roles in containing the virus by following government’s orders on restriction of gatherings. Unfortunately, some of them have decided to go against this order. There have been reports that the Coronavirus now has a new strain which affects both the old and the new. The most worrisome trait of this strain is that it is asymptomatic. Thus, people who have contracted it could spread it without showing any symptoms. This alone should be enough to scare Nigerians to stick to all government’s advice in relation to the Coronavirus pandemic. Social distancing in Lagos practically means staying at home. This is simply because social distancing cannot be achieved in most parts of the County especially Lagos state.
Different state governments have started taking measures to reduce congestion in their various states. However, the Federal Government needs to step into this and issue a state of emergency in states such as Lagos and others that have recorded cases of the virus. Social distancing and hand washing are definitely good steps to take but none could be as effective as issuing a ‘stay at home’ order. Such could be extremely difficult in a poor country like ours but that sadly, is the best option available for use before it gets too late or out of hand.