The commercial city of Lagos returned to its usual bustle on Monday, May 4, after the lockdown was relaxed by President Muhammadu Buhari. The nation’s capital city, Abuja, also followed suit with activities resuming in the Federal Capital Territory after approximately a month of lockdown.
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The first look of the confusion which raged in both Abuja and Lagos since they reopened business activities is not quite encouraging as many are worried that the rate of the COVID-19 virus infection could skyrocket soon. No social distancing rules were maintained as people returned to work, banks, and other public places unhindered.
Having seen the bigger negative effect which the lockdown had on most Nigerians who live in these specially affected places, the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 must have considered that letting people go about their business would be better. But at what cost is that decision? It might seem that policy-makers have forgotten once again that flattening the rising curve of coronavirus infection is the ultimate aim for now as they have not done enough to get people safely back to work.
The economic effect of the brief shutdown is already setting in. Many Nigerians are now being laid off work. Many have had their time-sensitive businesses shut down with no hope of restarting soon. The negative effect on the world economy as a whole or on the Nigerian economy and GDP is also gargantuan.
While some countries are observing strict lockdown of activities, others have avoided the lockdown option while also experiencing a very low mortality rate compared to cities/countries which have been shut down.
So the question- “was lockdown our best strategy for flattening the COVID-19 curve?” continues to plague us. Why didn’t we go the Sweden route from onset?
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Sweden, a small European country, deployed the strategy of locking their elderly population indoors – away from the dangers of contracting COVID-19, while the younger population goes about their business and activities wearing face masks. Sweden – a country of 10 million people – has had only 24,623 confirmed cases, 1,543 recoveries and 3040 deaths. Taiwan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, are also applying nearly same model Sweden used.
This was the strategy which these countries activated in achieving herd immunity – a more desirable outcome for fighting COVID-19.
Although the number of cases reported daily is gradually declining in Nigeria, it is not yet time to celebrate. With community spread already established in many cities in Nigeria, it is only a matter of time before the number of reported cases rise. There is also the matter of inadequacy of testing which has artificially lowered the number of cases which is being reported daily by the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC).
Therefore, as it seems that we might have achieved the flat curve which epidemiologists and health economists have always desired, it may be too soon to relax. This is the time when the Federal Government and state governments, as well as relevant branches of government should come up with a holistic plan which can be applied nationally in preventing a more fatal consequence of this pandemic. Flattening the COVID-19 in Nigeria is not so as hard as rocket science, as the government is making it seem like.
Featured Image Source: Medical Xpress
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