By Amagwu Ibeawuchi Francis
TOWARDS the ending months of the year 2019, the human race globally witnessed the emergence of a pandemic, which threatened human existence with extinction. It came as the coronavirus disease and derived its name COVID-19 from the year of its emergence.
It is now over a full year since the emer- gence of COVID-19 and the human race is still very much in existence, but still grappling with the devastating effects of the disease on human health and economic wellbeing.
Given the several deaths recorded across the globe and huge resources so far expended on this deadly disease, there is no doubt about the reality of COVID-19. This, however, does not deny the submissions of the many con- spiracy theories surrounding the disease. If the original intentions of this virus was to get the human race into extinction, it is now obvious that the ugly and devilish intentions have hit the rocks but, if part of the intention was for the virus to remain a recurring threat to hu- man health and lifestyle, ignoring the useful lessons from the pandemic would certainly give credence to its original intentions to erase humanity from the surface of the earth, the success of which is in the domain of human attitudes and characteristic disposition to the disease and implications thereof.
At the onset of COVID-19, it was obvious that the disease rendered pharmaceutical ingenuity and innovations impotent, ridiculed medical expertise and debased economic foundations and growth. Global tourism took the back seat as all humans were subjected to the race to survive and remain alive.
The disease had no respect for economic supremacy and diplomacy of any nation, religious sentiments of the clergy and even technological innovations of the contempo- rary youthful generation became inactive.
Individuals, businesses, governments and non-governmental institutions responded to the emergence of the disease with funda- mental solutions for emergency. There were economic lockdowns across the globe, ban on inter- and intra-city movement; curfews andChikwe Ihekweazu, NCDC DG
bans on gatherings of any sort became the or- der of the day. Governments all over the globe came up with testing and isolation centres, created huge emergency budget provisions for palliatives and existing business contracts and negotiations came to a halt. Recommenda- tions were made for wearing of face masks, continual handwashing, use of sanitizers and physical distancing as immediate remedies to the spread of the pandemic. The efficacy of these are obvious today.
More interesting is the development of COVID-19 vaccines, which today are being administered (though skeletally, and with fears of contraindications and side effects) by nations all over the world.
Ironically, despite the attestable efficacy of the remedial solutions to the pandemic and its spread, the increasing level of deaths in recent times has given justification for a second lock- down. The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) daily reports of new cases and deaths from COVID-19 are not only scary but alarm- ing. The increase is not unconnected with conspiracy theorists who do not believe that COVID-19 is real and, therefore, exhibited nonchalant attitude to observing prescribed protocols, especially in social interactions.
Historians and students of history were
quick to inform the public while COVID-19 was spreading of the likelihood of a second phase of the pandemic, which they claimed would be more deadly and devastating than the first phase. They were quick to remind
us of the occurrence of this same pandemic about 100 years ago, which was immediately followed with a second phase. What they did not inform us was whether the second phase was associated with a second lockdown. How- ever, it is instructive and logical to associate the economic crises of the 1920s and 1930s to the spillover effects of the pandemic and its implications on the global economy of the succeeding years.
It is obvious that the lessons and new
ways of life arising from the emergence of COVID-19 have been learnt and imbibed. It is also obvious that the pandemic cannot lead to extinction of humans. The major concern for all nations and individuals now is the sustain- ability of measures to deal with the disease and its spread. These include:
1. Preventive – washing of hands, wearing of face masks, maintaining physical distance;
2. Curative – visiting a doctor for tests and medication, self-isolation, steaming (sauna);
3. Staying safe and healthy by natural eating habits and exercise.
With the introduction of vaccines, it is expected that COVID-19 and its spread will be reasonably contained and confined to history in the nearest future.
And with all these the economic life of individual households could be guaranteed even while the pandemic is in existence. This has nothing to do with lockdown or ban of movement of any sort, which is anti-eco- nomic progress. Lockdown affects the poor and vulnerable in society who live by daily struggles and cannot afford any threat to their daily income. It will, therefore, worsen the unemployment situation, increase crime and restiveness in society. Governments will be incapacitated to handle the obvious impact of lockdown on society.
While the initial lockdown across the globe was fundamental as an emergency solution, a second lockdown, by all intents and justifica- tions, is not necessary and anti-economic re-
covery, which most economies now face as a result of the pandemic. And, from experience so far, there is no strong correlation between the spread of the disease and lockdown as a solution, rather, lockdown has huge negative effects on global economy, affecting budgets, revenue and expenditures, without sparing the income of individual households.
We need to be reminded that the first lock- down, saw the closure of markets, churches, schools and forms of gathering, including regulated movement of goods and services. This brought down the economy and made some governments (especially the strong economies) provide palliatives to citizens in addition to adequately equipped hospitals and isolation centres, while the weak economies with poor leadership profile were caught gasp- ing for effective remedial actions.
Lockdown affects movement of goods and services, which are necessary ingredients
for human survival and economic progress, and a thinking mind would be reluctant to contemplate a second lockdown in the midst of economic crises and associated recession as is the case with Nigeria.
To the glory of God and credit to all stake- holders responsible for creating the solutions to the pandemic, which frustrated the original intentions of COVID-19 and kept us all alive today to share experiences and tell the story of the pandemic, serious attention and actions should now be devoted to the new lifestyles for human existence, the efficacy of which is no longer in doubt.
Gambling with a second phase of lockdown would be counterproductive to economic recovery and progress; its multiplier effects on human survival cannot be overemphasized. Sending people back to their homes without adequate savings and food supplies will create pervasive hunger and ultimate resistance.
The contemporary world and global economy is currently too fragile to witness another economic crisis as was the case in the 1900s/1930s.
•Prof. Ibeawuchi Francis is a faculty Micro and Development Finance, Appolos