Never before has a nationwide emergency tested the resilience of Africa’s most populous country as that of the covid-19 pandemic.
Health systems in most of the 54 countries are fragile and unable to accommodate widespread outbreaks such as those seen in Europe.
The best bet the governments can hope for is prevention, mitigation, and early isolation when a case is confirmed. At the moment, Nigeria and several other African countries lack adequate basic sanitation which is key when tackling this virus.
Ease of restrictions
The first Nigerian case of COVID-19 was registered on February 27, and the tally now stands at 5,450 confirmed, 1,320 recovered, and 171 deaths - as of May 16. A five-week lockdown had been in place in Abuja and Lagos.
In a televised broadcast, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari announced a relaxation of the measures in Abuja, Lagos and Ogun states but mandated wearing of face masks when in public.
No gathering of over 20 people is allowed and people should stay 6.6 feet apart from each other. The country has enforced a curfew between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. leaving an exception for essential travelers.
Parts of Kano state are to remain on lockdown as the government tries to curb the spread of the virus in that state. Kano is the largest city in the country’s Northeast and now a new hotbed for the spread.
Did the lockdown work?
After the lockdown was eased, the country reported a record number of covid-19 cases by May 5 - according to the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), 245 of which 73 were from the capital Lagos.
The once empty streets of Lagos are now free for movement. Reporting on the eased restrictions shows most of the social distancing measures being largely ignored - a testament to the huge urban crowding that marks most cities across the country.
Change of strategy
The states of Kano, Lagos, Ogun, and Sokoto have been enrolled in the global solidarity trial of the vaccine under development aimed at tackling the covid-19 pandemic. The trials are fully steered by the World Health Organization.
A recent uptick in violence has forced over 23,000 refugees to flee into neighboring Niger. A rise in cases of banditry and insecurity has caused the displacement of thousands of people. The Nigerian security forces are already overstretched manning the 10mile long northern border exposed to Boko Haram.
ph: Santos Akhilele Aburime / Shutterstock.com