• News - North Central - FCT
  • Updated: May 20, 2020

COVID-19: Distrust Threatening Nigeria’s Pandemic Response (II)


...continued from Part I

The number of novel Coronavirus cases in Nigeria has passed 6, 000 people, according to official data on Tuesday night.

As per the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on the 19th of May, 2020, the virus known as COVID-19 has spread across 34 states of Nigeria, plus the capital Abuja.

The country conducted 36, 899 coronavirus tests, and a total of 6, 401 of them were positive.

A total of 192 people died due to the pandemic, while 1, 734 others have recovered so far.

After originating in China last December, COVID-19 has spread to more than 188 countries and territories.

The pandemic has killed more than 323, 000 people, with total infections nearing 5 million worldwide, according to figures on Wikipedia.


Tsunami Of COVID-19 Collateral Damage Looms

Sheriffdeen Ewunuga, one of the healthcare workers at the frontline of Nigeria’s struggle with COVID-19, admitted distrust between the government and governed. However, he strongly advises people to keep safe.

Dr Ewunuga preaches good hygienic practices to help slow the spread of COVID-19

Dr. Ewunuga is a registered and licensed health practitioner in Lagos state.

“People should take all precautionary measures because that is the best prevention,” he said.

“The government is making use of all human and mechanical machinery at its disposal to fight the pandemic.

“We have surveillance officers in all Local Government Areas (LGAs). We have community informants in all wards in the LGAs. We have an emergency response committee in the LGA and Local Council Development Area (LCDA) levels to fast-track actions in the process of case investigation, sample taking, and processing.

“We also have the NCDC zoning activities in all the five zones of Lagos state to make case investigation and suspected patient sampling easier.

“As well, we have online booking COVID-19 testing sites in all the 37 local government areas of Lagos state, to be able to identify those highly at risk.”

When asked the consequence of playing down the realness of COVID-19, Dr. Ewunuga said: “One is Community outbreak. Second is rapid transmission among the people.

“If the chain of transmission is not broken, we will have high mortality.

“Playing down COVID-19’s realness is saying ‘why do I need to cover my face?’, ‘why should I wash my hand every time?’, ‘wetin be sanitiser sef?’

“If one fails on positive hygienic practices, such a person is at risk.”

Furthermore, the medical practitioner conceded some persons with severe catarrh and or cough could be mistaken for COVID-19, but he mentioned the asymptomatic patients who “are more dangerous being with in terms of transmission of the virus”.

According to him, “Because COVID-19 also shows signs and symptoms of respiratory tract infection, patients with those complaints could be mistaken for COVID-19.

“Patients who are asthmatic and had been known to have some underlying conditions are the ones that will be predisposed to having more risks.”

Bearing in mind that there is no cure yet for COVID-19, Dr. Ewunuga stated that those who had recovered are “treated symptomatically and placed on proper review”.

“They are administered with antiviral drugs, managed and rechecked twice before being discharged,” he added.

Dr. Abiodun Okanlawon, a medical officer at the Critical Care Unit of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) concurs to the fact that the masses nurse distrust for the government. Nevertheless, he ties that to a lack of access to media.

According to him, “awareness (about the COVID-19) was not created enough. There has been an improvement in the last few weeks though.”

Dr. Okanlawon says making light of the epidemic will lead to more cases and eventually high morbidity and mortality because more people will be living with no sense of precaution.

“This will, in the long run, affect the economy.”

He continued: “With the current situation of things, if no amendment is made, the number of cases could soon get to as high as 12, 000 - if not more.

“The number of deaths too will rise with the number of cases as health workers and facilities will become overwhelmed.”

Why Testing Suspected Cases Should Not Be Undermined

On misdiagnosis, Dr. Okanlawon stressed the importance of testing contacts.

He believes more testing centres should be created.

“To me, the process of getting people tested should be decentralized.

“I was happy when I got to know we have more centres.

“Another hitch is that we could have people with other illnesses that have the same symptoms as COVID-19 and at the same time, have COVID-19.

“The way forward is to make provisions for test kits.”

Quizzed if that implies that the majority of the 6, 000+ confirmed cases fall into that category, he replied: “that will be difficult to ascertain except other tests to make a diagnosis of other illnesses are carried out.

“What is certain is that they were tested for COVID-19 and were confirmed positive.

“They were basically treated symptomatically.

“Then, some drugs which people did well on earlier on trial, like ritonavir and lopinavir which are antiviral, were used.

“Remdesivir is currently being researched as a potential cure.

“Also, vitamins to help with immune prowess like Vitamin A, C, and E were used for those that recovered.”

READ ALSO: FACT CHECK: Is Nigeria Switching On 'Deadly' 5G In Lagos?

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that it will continue to lead the global fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

It also warned that nearly a quarter of a billion Africans could contract coronavirus in the first year of the pandemic, with between 150,000 and 190,000 of them dying.

Africa has had less than 100,000 cases so far, but WHO experts believe the continent will have a prolonged outbreak over a few years.

Editor’s Note: This is the second and final of a two-part series. You may read Part I here.


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Ridwan Yusuf
Ridwan Yusuf

Ridwan is a trained Communicator who provides professional coverage of general news and sports. ...

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