On Friday, the status of Nigeria as a country free from coronavirus changed as one person was confirmed positive in Lagos. An Italian who works in Nigeria, got into the country via Turkish Airline on the 25th of February, he suddenly fell ill while in Ogun State. He was taken to a hospital where diagnosis confirmed him positive, and that was the beginning of the Nigerian story in the list of countries battling to contain the deadly virus.
As expected, the development has thrown the public into fear and panic, and there is a load of misinformation to keep it going. The Nigerian Center for Disease Control (NCDC) has issued a statement urging the public to remain calm as the situation is being contained.
“The Government of Nigeria, through the Federal Ministry of Health has been strengthening measures to ensure an outbreak in Nigeria is controlled and contained quickly.
“The multi-sectoral Coronavirus preparedness Group led by the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) has immediately activated its national Emergency Operations Center and will work closely with Lagos State Health authorities to respond to this case and implement firm control measures.
“We wish to assure all Nigerians that we will be beefing up our preparedness capabilities since the first confirmation of cases in China, and we will use all the resources made available by the government to respond to this case,” statement from NCDC said on Friday.
This assurance is meant to bring calm among Lagosians and Nigerians in general, if not for the fact that the infected person has made contact with several other people in Lagos and Ogun States, who cannot be accounted for. Though the NCDC said his activities since he came into Lagos are being tracked, and probably, it is going to lead to people who have had contact with him, there is no doubt that the virus is already spreading.
A report by Sahara Reporters said the Italian went to the Lafarge Factory at Ewekoro Ogun State, and made contacts with so many people before it became obvious he needed medical attention. He was taken to the Lafarge clinic where medical personnel attended to him without protective gear.
To confirm the fear being entertained by many, the Italian was driven to Lagos using an ambulance belonging to a clinic in Shagamu, which is not designated for coronavirus emergencies. Moreover, the driver was wearing no protective gear when he drove the patient to Lagos, and he was not given medical checks to ascertain his status. So he went back the way he came.
Though the report said the Lafarge clinic has been shut down and many of those (about 28 persons) who came in contact with the Italian (including the ambulance driver) have been quarantined, they all have made contacts with others as well. An eyewitness said that on the day of the event, “they were all allowed to go home.”
A Twitter user claimed he came in contact with the Italian, he tweeted that he picked him from the Murtala Mohammed Airport Lagos and spent enough time with him to be concerned about being infected.
In his next tweet, he confirmed that he has tested positive.
The Impact so far
As the stories emerge, they come with panic reactions that are capable of disrupting economic activities in the state. Already, COVID-19 has left terrible economic prints everywhere it has passed around the world. Over $5 trillion has been wiped off markets, and stocks are still counting losses. The European stock markets today recorded further losses as stocks keep plunging to dismal levels. Germany’s DAX failed by over 4%, France’s CAC 40 by 3.8%, the UK’s FTSE 100 went down by 3.5% and Spain’s IBEX 35 was down by 4%.
In Lagos, at the break of the news people were thrown into panic buying medical supplies. Sanitizer went from N2,200 to N3,200, and many of the supermarkets are reportedly running out of supplies. This is certainly going to affect how people move, interact, or engage in all businesses in the state. And the economic effect is going to be much.
It is of concern because it is happening at a time when the oil sector is suffering a severe downturn as a result of the scourge. And the non-oil sector is showing an increase according to the Q4 2019 report. So if it is not curtailed quickly, many of the businesses in the non-oil sector are going dwindle as people would likely keep to themselves.
In this state of chaos, the government has been urged to be pragmatic in order to put the people to calm. The former vice president Atiku Abubakar has urged the federal government to apply the same method that Nigeria used in 2014 to defeat Ebola in their approach. He also counseled the government to stop flights from infected countries.
“We must call upon our experience with the Wild Ebola Virus, of which we were the first nation in the world to defeat that scourge in 2014. How did Nigeria do it? We achieved it by showing unprecedented unity…
“Nigeria needs firm and decisive actions to prevent an escalation of the scourge. Recently, we closed our borders as an act against economic sabotage. Perhaps now is the time to temporarily halt flights to and from any nation with a prevalence of this scourge,” he said.
Coronavirus is spreading at such a rate that it seems like a death sentence, so far, there has been over 82,594 reported cases globally, there has also been 36, 571 recoveries.
The general public has been urged to keep a hygienic attitude and look out for the symptoms which basically are; cough, sneezing, fever, breathlessness, rigors and chest pain.