For the first time in a century, over 150 countries of the world are on total or partial lockdown. The world is facing a global recession very much unlike the global economic meltdown experienced 2009. Important events, including sports have been called off and are unlikely to be held soon.
This year’s EURO Cup and the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo have been put off. All football, rugby, basketball leagues in Europe, America, Asia and Africa have long been suspended with organisers considering declaring them inconclusive altogether.
In order to put the threat of this pandemic in better perspective and help strategise for a workable solution, especially on the African continent, Daily SunSports engaged a seasoned Security Consultant and Analyst and the initiator of the Nigeria Pitch Awards, Mr. Shina Philips. As a FIFA-Licensed Agent and organiser of the prestigious Nigeria Pitch Awards, he spoke on man’s best chance of overcoming the pandemic. He enumerates the potential effects of the pandemic on a post-COVID-19 world.
Response as organisers of the Nigeria Pitch Awards
We had already scheduled the 7th Award Ceremony of the Nigeria Pitch Awards before the lockdown was announced. But like other international events, the pandemic had forced us to suspend the event. This is not the only international event affected by the lockdown. Major sporting events around the world including the unavoidable English Premiership League and many other football leagues around the world have been suspended. For us as a responsible organisation, we could not have done otherwise. We felt we should abide by government’s order and toe the line of all responsible organisations. However, we are strategising to ensure we can still hold the award ceremony in line with the social distancing guideline.’
Man’s best strategy to overcome the pandemic
COVID-19 is at war with the human race. But unlike other diseases that humans have dealt with in the past, COVID-19 has revealed the extent of human weakness and strength. This pandemic has shown us how frail and weak we are. ‘
We can see nations investing funds, time and energy to come up with solutions such as drugs and vaccine to deal with this pandemic. I can assure you of this though: once we are able to deal with this pandemic, the human race will emerge stronger and better equipped to deal with any challenge of this nature in future, even if it involves a confrontation with aliens, not that I believe they exit though.’
‘Our strength lies in our cooperating with the authorities and acting together by listening to one another and adhering to the measures put in place by the Government and international organizations like the WHO. Our Government is following international best practices in global guidelines laid out to curb the spread of the pandemic. As safety measures, we have the principle of social distancing, testing of those who display symptoms of the virus, tracing those who have made contact with infected persons and treating confirmed cases. The Government must invest resources in extensive campaign to create awareness because this must continue. There must be awareness and enforcement of the principle of social distancing.’
‘Man’s immediate best chance of winning this war is social distancing. We must continue with this while expecting the scientists in the developed world to come up with a vaccine. In the United Kingdom, the government recently released funding to the tune of £20 million to the Oxford University for the funding of three projects related to the extensive research on a vaccine for COVID-19. The projects include research for effective vaccine, working on pre-clinical and clinical vaccine trials and support for the manufacturing process to produce vaccine to the scale of up to a million doses. In the United States, clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccine have begun at the New York University Langone Health. There are of course several other efforts on-going to produce effective treatment for infected persons. It is usually an exceptionally long process with many protocols. It is now a race for man’s survival. We can get it out in a shorter span of time for the safety of the human race. Surely if there is a vaccine, we know that the virus can be eradicated. While these efforts are on-going, we should adhere to the advice of one of the Governors in the United States who said individuals should behave or act like they have COVID-19 while thanking God that you don’t have it.’
Impact of government’s response to the pandemic
Responses will expectedly be varied because people have different understanding of the problem itself. The Nigerian government was swift in introducing measures and locking down the affected areas. But government could have done better if, prior to the lockdown, there had been a very thorough and extensive sensitization campaign, not just on TV or radio or the internet but also on other media of mass communication because of our peculiar demography. Strategic campaign methods could have been put in place to spread the news of the virus. ‘
As at December 2019, Nigeria had 126 million internet users and just 27 million of them are on Facebook. There are Nigerians who do not have access to the internet, the TV and even the radio.
With epileptic power supply, how many Nigerians can get information on TV or over the radio. The government should have extensively used the local traditional and oral media to reach many who live in the rural areas and who do not have direct access to the social media, using local town criers and public address system to disseminate important information on COVID-19 in local languages to rural dwellers and those who do not have access to our conventional news media.
Secondly, the message should have explained why COVID-19 is different and how it is different from the other diseases we have been used to over the years. In summary, the only snag to government’s response to the pandemic is that government did not go about the sensitization in a strategic way so as to accommodate those in rural areas, those in densely populated areas and people who need to be addressed in their local languages and dialects.’
Is Africa’s response to the pandemic satisfactory?
First, we need to be reminded that COVID-19 first broke out in Wuhan in China. Initially, world leaders applauded the Chinese government for their handling of the health crisis.
One of the advantages of our experience with COVID-19 is that it has reinforced popular belief that the world is indeed and truly a global village. African leaders cannot shy away from the responsibility of coming together to solve this problem. Perhaps, the solution to this pandemic can come from Africa. We have great scientists, pharmacologists, virologists, and other medical scientists in Africa. These people can come together to develop drugs, vaccine, or some other solutions to this problem.