There is no doubt that the recent increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in some states has placed Nigeria as one of the top countries in Africa with the high rise of the pandemic. On several occasions, the Federal Government through the Presidential Task Force on the disease hinted that Nigerians and residents need to follow specific measures for the containment of the virus. The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control has also been sensitising the public about the severity of the virus.
In all, we have seen a number of positive and negative outcomes. While the measures are being implemented by people and businesses, we have seen how the cases reduced and recoveries picked up. This has been attributed to collective efforts exhibited by the concerned stakeholders. However, our analysis has indicated that a number of Nigerians are losing interest in total containment of the virus.
The weakening interest has been fueled with the yesterday (June 29, 2020) announcement of reopening of secondary schools across the country for some categories of students [see Exhibit 2]. This decision has been lauded and being criticised by stakeholders. People and businesses that aligned with the reopening of the schools want economy to return to its normal activities. Some believe that reopening schools would put students in danger and increase the spread of the disease.
“That means all these figures of infected person’s NCDC is brandishing every night is not real. How can we have a daily increase of covid-19 and FG is opening up everywhere,” one of Nigerians who reacted to the story, revealing government’s decision, said.
From the citizen’s position, our analyst notes that concerned stakeholders, especially the NCDC and Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 need to redouble their efforts on behavioural change programmes. This has become imperative when one looks at percent of interest reduction in people’s knowledge and information seeking about the virus within 24 hours of announcing reopening of schools and consideration of precision lockdown in 18 local government areas considered as epicentres of the disease since February, 2020 [see Exhibit 2 and 3].
Exhibit 1: Nigeria in Comparison with the World
Exhibit 2: Spikes in Lockdown, Covid-19 and School within 24 Hours
Exhibit 3: Rising and Declining Interest in Lockdown within 24 Hours