How to stem COVID-19, experts advice FG, States as pandemic spike
By Samuel Ogunsona
Nigeria may be entering a more dangerous phase of COVID-19 spread unless the Federal and State Governments intensify efforts to stem the growing tide of infections across the country.
Experts at a one-day Webinar organized by the Human and Environmental Development Agenda, (HEDA Resource Centre) warned on Friday that the rate of infection coupled with Government’s slow response may push the country into what they described as ‘Super Pandemic.’
The event which was moderated by Prof Adedeji Adekunle drew 40 participants including from across the country.
Irohinoodua was part of the event orgainsed to critically examine the status of Nigeria in the global COVID-19 map with participants offering best practices in dealing with the pandemic. Opening the discussion on Friday on the meeting tagged “One-Day Webinar on Public Finance and Accountability in the Covid-19 Era And Beyond” the HEDA Chairman, Mr Olanrewaju Suraju said Nigerians also have the historic responsibility to ensure transparency in the management of funds and figures relating to the coronavirus pandemic. “Nigeria cannot fight COVID-19 effectively unless the activities relating to pandemic are done in a transparent manner.”
As part of the resolution after the day event, participants called for litigation and advocacy to ensure the Federal and State Governments meet public expectations in the drive to stop the COVID-19 spread. They also called on the Federal Government to live up to the calling of the constitution which empowers the National Assembly to create emergency funds for the management of afflictions like COVID-19.
The participants expressed deep worry about the increasing cases of new infections while the percentage of recovery compared with the number of cases merely sustain a despairing mood. In the past few weeks, the number of new cases have increased as the number of testing goes up the ladder, they said.
Speaking at the event, Mr. Babajide Ogunsanwo said the figures emanating from the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, (NDDC) shows that the COVID-19 pandemic is getting worse.
He said with the figures in Nigeria standing at 26,257 cases with 15,239 active cases and 616 deaths, shows that Nigeria needs to do more to prevent a “Super Pandemic.” He said though the number of deaths in Nigeria is low, but that this should not delude Nigerians to assume that country was cruising on a save altitude adding that the figures are influenced by the country’s demography and the donations from local and international donations which have assisted the country to counter the virus. “The funds have helped to reduce the casualty” he said.
According to him, what appears to be lower deaths in Nigeria compared with a country like the United States, (US) is because of Nigeria’s has more to do with the demography of the country. He said “The most affected are the elderly. In Nigeria only very few celebrate their 65 age, about 3 percent. In the US, the percentage of people who live up to 65 years is very high” adding that since the elderly are more vulnerable, this explains why the figure of deaths appear low in Nigeria coupled with the low test capacity.
He said while Nigeria has tested some 100,000 people, the United States alone tests some 400,000 people in just one day.
“Only some 121,000 have been tested in Nigeria since February while the US has over 400,000 tested in one day. The infection rate is getting worse. Between May 31 to June 1, we recorded 17 percent in the next month, 21 percent of samples taken were infected. 1 out of 3 samples taken comes out positive in Nigeria”, Ogunsanwo said.
He said by the end of June, NCDC said it would have tested 2million people, but as at now, Nigeria has tested only 100,000 plus. The participants regretted that the number of new cases is higher than those leaving the hospitals as at June.
“Number of cases each week is higher than cases leaving the hospital. This is worrisome even as the government relaxes lockdown” the participants said.
Questions were also raised about the veracity of the number of texts. For instance, 82 percent of active cases are in Southern in Nigeria raising concerns on how come South has the highest COVID-19 when the North is expected to have more population than the South. This might do with whether the figures coming from the North are underestimated or a clear case of politicization of COVID-19, Ogunsanwo said.
One of the speakers, Dr Abiola Akiode Afolabi said Nigerians must ensure officials do not turn the COVID-19 campaign into a money spinning venture adding that the future of the campaign against COVID-19 is dependent on a transparent and honest process. Olu Ebun Adegboruwa, (SAN) said it is the responsibility of the Government to secure the lives and properties of Nigerians saying that the constitutional provision on that right must be respected by national and sub-national governments.