Just to have the tip of the iceberg, Italy is at the heart of the COVID-19 outbreak in Europe. Italian hospitals are known to have a world-class health system until last week when their hope of coping with the disease was faltered as series of people started coming up with pneumonia.
The coronavirus is pushing Italy to its breaking point as they run out of ventilators and oxygen until they are left with no choice than to leave some patients to die.
The virus which had aroused panic in both you and I, as the world health organization (W.H.O) declares it this week has successfully infected 244,097 and resulted in 10,005 deaths around the world, china inclusive. This is as of March 19, 2020, 22:40.
Very few of today’s political leaders have ever faced anything like a pandemic and it’s economic fallout.
Although, some arguments are maintaining that the effect of the coronavirus on the economy can not be as deadly as the financial crisis of 2007-2009.
Just three(3) factors will determine how they will cope: Their attitudes to uncertainties, the structure and competence of their health systems and whether they are trusted.
With all the grief and fear in the world, I’m still perplexed to see how Nigerians tend to react to the coronavirus. Some argue that the record of the virus in Nigeria isn’t as real and deadly as the way Nigeria’s government makes is sound.
Some even believe that there’s no positive case of COVID-19 in Nigeria yet and that the government is giving us false reports in order to further their campaign of looting the public funds while the claim they have spent huge sums of money fighting the virus.
My reply to that is that: I pray those doubting won’t be a victim of covid-19 to know if it’s real or not.
I’m even more amazed when I look at the Nigeria way.
Nigeria has been continuing as normal in most instances. Sure, people from the 13 most-affected countries are banned from coming to Nigeria but the indolent Brit’s can still come over along with other friends.
Meanwhile, if you’re sick, we can get you tested but that’s if you can travel miles to get tested (Nigerian government’s way of solving the problem). Oh, and the freedom of movement is still fine as long as you can accept that football games are suspended plus public gathering.
Facilities should not be provided on state and capital bases but at least on a senatorial district basis to avoid the spread while traveling from the rural area to the urban just to get tested.
Many of these choices drive at the heart of what it means to be a Nigerian. The individual freedom that we barely have before will need to be compromised again, freedom of movement, public protest, and right to privacy will be among the liberties to go in other to control the spread of the virus.
This is where the biggest reality of my life sets in.
Poland announced their lockdown with 68 cases and 1 death, Italy and Spain announced theirs after reaching 1000’s of cases and deaths. The USA is allowing free movements whilst suffering 13,289 cases and 183 deaths. Britain can put up with a new attitude of “keep calm and carry on” while suffering several cases.
I guess Nigeria has gone back to her master, we are with the attitude too. Even politicians are still holding up political rallies disregarding the safety of their faithful supporters.
Fine, I accept that the British and American way is that they must not infringe on the rights of the individuals but the political alignment towards keeping a healthy economy plays a key factor here.
Nigeria has this nonchalant attitude because they want everything and everyone to act and believe there was no issue. It is only as they realize the seriousness of the issue that they wake up and start shaken up.
In general, COVID-19 is a challenge to the generation of politicians who have taken power since the financial crisis. Many of them deny globalization and experts. They thrive and survive on division and conflict. In some way, the pandemic will play to their looting agenda, the fact that shortages will crimp the global economy, industries may pull back from globalization and by doing this they will gain protection by simply diversifying their supply chains.
What should they do?
Each country should simply do this, they must strike their own balance between the benefits of tracking the disease and the invasion of privacy. China shows the power of big data and mass testing as a way of identifying cases and limiting their spread.
Recently they confirmed that they hardly record cases of Covid-19 locally. The Nigerian government also needs to anticipate the pandemic because the action to slow its spread such as banning crowds will prove more effective if they are early.
Singapore’s response to the pandemic can be regarded as one of the best responses to the pandemic, which has had fewer cases than expected. Although, special thanks to an efficient bureaucracy in a single small territory, world-class universal health care and experience of an epidemic of a related virus in 2003. Their early actions saved them.
The simple truth is that nothing strokes rumor and fear more than the suspicion that the politicians are hiding the truth. When they downplay the threat in a misguided attempt to avoid panic, they end up sowing confusion and costing lives.
Yet leaders have struggled to come in terms with the pandemic and how to talk about it.
Nigeria might later resolve in china’s outlook if it fails to tackle the virus on time. China’s solution endorsed by W.H.O was to impose a brutal quarantine coupled with mass testing and contact tracing. This will, in turn, come at a high human and economic cost. Despite the fact that China fought it, uncertainty persists because nobody knows if a second wave of infections will rise up.
The Nigerian government will have to determine if people will tolerate China’s harsh regime of isolation and surveillance. Italy’s lockdown does not heavily infringe people’s rights but if it proves leaky as it may be expensive.
Yet, the pandemic also puts doctors, scientists, and policy experts at the heart of government.
PANDEMICs are quintessentially global affairs.
Countries need to work together on treatments, protocols, and vaccines. Worried voters may have less interest in partisan politics. We need our government to deal with the real problems we’re facing and this is what politics should have been about all along.
This is the time we have never seen in our lives. Get ready to be anti-social for a while. Lockdown is coming. STAY SAFE.
EDITOR’S NOTE: OYOGist.com appreciates the author’s contribution and welcomes thoughtful inputs from our readers on the coronavirus pandemic.