It is commendable that the federal and state governments have mapped out more stringent measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in the country. In addition to the order closing schools and places of worship, state governments have closed some markets in their domains and urged some workers to work from home.
Unavoidable gathering of people, especially burial, has been limited to 20 people instead of 50 people earlier announced. Major airlines have suspended local flights. In fact, the entire country can be said to be on partial lockdown due to the rampaging pandemic. However, we think that the government should do more to check the spread of the disease in terms of test kits, facemasks and hand gloves. Government should think of stimulus package, especially to the poor and vulnerable groups to cushion the effect of the pandemic.
So far, coronavirus has spread to 170 countries. It has infected more than 470,000 people and killed more than 21,000 people. Among the most affected countries, China has 81,218 cases, Italy, 74,386, USA, 60,653, Spain, 47,610, Germany, 35,740, Iran, 27,017 and France 22,304. Nigeria has recorded 51 cases with one person dead, while two persons have recovered from the disease.
Therefore, there is urgent need to scale up public hygiene and limit social gathering. We urge the public to observe all precautionary measures to stem the spread of the disease. The frightening figures call for more global action against the pandemic. The global health agency should assist poor countries to overcome the disease. There is no doubt that the desperate situation we are in now calls for more desperate actions.
Globally, Italy has overtaken China as the new epicenter of the pandemic with over 7,503 deaths. The country is virtually on a total lockdown with citizens restricted to their homes. All workplaces are closed with only essential services maintained. For the rest of Europe, especially in Spain and Germany, where the rate of new infections are rapidly rising, the governments have taken strict measures to curtail the spread of the virus. The United States has taken some stringent measures to halt the spread of the virus.
The Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunibe Mamora, recently warned that the country may be forced to take extreme measures in view of the rapidly spreading virus. This can possibly explain why some public servants at the federal and state levels have been ordered to work from home in the next two weeks in the first instance. The order is expected to be reviewed as the situation demands. The private sector has been advised to take similar measures in their offices.
The Federal Government has postponed the National Sports Festival, which was scheduled to hold in Benin, Edo State. The NYSC orientation programme has been stopped nationwide. Government has suspended the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meetings and closed all airports to international flights except for emergency and other designated cases. The land borders have been closed, too.
The state governments have been sensitizing the citizens and announcing measures to curb the spread of the pandemic. The Lagos State Government has been giving daily updates on the disease. We hope that Covid-19 does not escalate to the extent of warranting a total lockdown of the country as some concerned citizens are advocating.
As can be seen from the experience with Italy, and to some extent the US, complacency of any kind can be very costly indeed. Our health authorities should be on the alert at all times to ensure that the new measures to curtail the spread of the disease are strictly enforced and new ones that might be necessary taken to ensure the safety of lives in the country. We shrug to imagine the devastating effect a fuller outbreak of the virus can have in the country, considering our poor health systems. Therefore, we call on the federal, state and local governments to work together to frontally tackle the spread of the pandemic. The private sector and other stakeholders are enjoined to assist in halting the rampaging scourge.