Nigeria’s Corona Wonder!

Nigeria’s coronavirus data is curiously inconsistent with global patterns. It’s over two months since the index case was reported, and we cannot say if we are reaching the peak of the crisis or not.

In other parts of the world, when cases start rising, they keep rising rapidly till it gets to a very frightening high, then, it starts falling till, it is cleared off. The good thing about this pattern is that it’s easier for the countries to plan themselves and understand how best to run things, especially, as regards the opening up of its economy.

In Nigeria, the numbers keep fluctuating. We have had several days without a single case in the FCT, then, before you know it we start having one or two cases for another five days, and from nowhere you are seeing 36 in a single day. Lagos had led consistently in the number of coronavirus cases, as the epicenter of the pandemic in Nigeria. But, yesterday, Lagos is third, after Kano and Abuja. That should have been some piece of good news, if we could trust the data, because it would have implied that Lagos is flattening the curve, but it won’t be surprising to read later this night that Lagos has registered more cases than it registered yesterday.

How does this work? Is it still about contact tracing or people now come forward to the test centers with symptoms and are tested and confirmed positive? How many people do we now test in a day and how do we determine the people to be tested? Coronavirus testing is not supposed to be a random thing. There is inconsistency in the information from government circles as it affects Nigeria’s testing capacity. The other week, the NCDC DG told us they could now test 3,000 people per day, another official told us we could test more in a day, but during the president’s broadcast last Monday, he told us we now have capacity to test 2,500 people per day. Who do we believe?

Imo’s Covid-19 data and handling is particularly disturbing. The government has not been forthcoming with information on the index case and we now have a second case already, yet, the information on the individual is not forthcoming. One of the key strategies in containing a pandemic is transparency. People should know who the sufferers are, so, that, they may know if they have had contact with such persons recently and self-isolate. But, when you keep such information hidden, the chances that the case would spread faster are higher. Unfortunately, we don’t hear from the Imo State Commissioner for Health and the Professor Maurice Iwu Covid-19 Committee in the State is either not equipped to speak to us or they don’t understand like us, what is really happening.

The pattern of reports in Nigeria makes a mess of the entire lockdown order. In two weeks of the first lockdown, we were supposed to have traced all the contacts of the index cases and tested them, and that would have determined if we were succeeding in our containment measures or not. Death rates and infection rates are the key determinants of subsequent actions, but things don’t seem clear enough here.

What happens to the two weeks quarantine protocol? If the original 1,900 contacts, then another 9000 contacts from the index cases have been traced and tested, where are the other numbers coming from? Does it mean that the virus can actually stay redundant in people for two months or more, with the carriers been asymptomatic? If that’s the case, then, the two weeks quarantine protocol is not working, and if it isn’t working, then, the Quarantine Act may as well be discarded and new strategies adopted.

How is it that Edo, Ekiti, Osun, Oyo, Bauchi and few other States that reported their first cases more than a month ago, are now seeing a rise in their cases? What is it about two weeks quarantine again? Does it mean that it took longer than usual for these new cases to report or these new cases came from elsewhere? How did they do?

Why is the NCDC very interested in having all the States return positive results? Why is government keeping quiet over the altercation between Kogi, Cross-Rivers governments and the NCDC? The States have made very serious allegations against the NCDC that nullifies whatever data the agency has been churning out. I am particularly curious about the NCDC expressing worry that some States haven’t reported any confirmed case of the virus. Is there some kind of trophy to br won if every part of Nigeria reports a confirmed case of the virus? And if you knew that every State in the country MUST register coronavirus cases, why did you advise us to lockdown?

Kano is particularly troubling. How many people are being tested in Kano? If we have the capacity to test a mere 2,500 per day, yet we have results coming in from across the Federation on daily basis, how did we allocate the numbers to be tested in each State? For instance, Kano turned out 92 confirmed cases yesterday alone. How many were tested in that State? If we test ten people per day in each of the States of the Federation and the capital territory, we would have tested 3700 people in a day. But, it’s obvious some States are testing a lot more than that. How many are they really testing? If we tested only 2500 people for instance and there are 238 cases, that’s close to ten percent and it’s a dangerous ratio.

Another thing that is not very clear is what’s happening to the corpses of those who died from the virus. Where are they at? Are they being buried by the government like other countries do, or they are being stored in morgues across the country. We know that Christians don’t bury their corpses without some elaborate ceremonies, but coronavirus doesn’t permit such ceremonies, so, what’s happening to the Christians who died from the infection? Are they being buried immediately like the global protocol requires, or they are being kept till the ‘thing is over’? What if it doesn’t ever get over?

Truth is; there are far more questions than answers in all of this, but we keep watching till we can no longer watch.

Onwuasoanya FCC Jones is not a scientist, but he has common sense.

Written by:
Onwuasoanya FCC Jones

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