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By Morenike Taire
Do you think that the lockdown during the COVID 19 pandemic was an essential measure despite the hardships it brought economically?
In the December of 2019, the outbreak of a novel strain of the Corona Virus, an already existing disease causing agent was identified in Wuhan, China. The World Health Organisation, WHO declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on January 30, and a pandemic on March 11. The disease known as COVID 19 had by this time spread to several other countries across the globe, Nigeria included.
Because of the fatality associated with the disease, the speed at which it spread and mystery around the nature of this newly mutated strain, most communities around the world were forced to go on lockdown, closing the doors of bars, recreational centres, worship centres, schools and offices. My country, Nigeria, followed suit not long after.
In my humble opinion, the lockdown was necessary to prevent faster spread of the deadly disease. The government was right to keep people at home. As of September 20 2020, 57,145 cases of Corona Virus Disease had been confirmed, considerably lower than the numbers in other countries. This is most probably due to the physical restrictions put in place by the government.
I believe the lockdown helped reduce the country’s potential numbers drastically. For example, the United States wasn’t among the countries that went into nationwide lockdown due to the country’s federalist state system. As of 20/09/20, they had reported 6.79 million cases. Nigeria, as of that same date, had reported 57,145 cases.
While one can argue that the US is over 50 percent larger than Nigeria by population which will inevitably cause/result in more numbers, I can come with the counter argument that it is also over ten times larger than Nigeria by land mass. This means, the population is more spread out, and the Corona Virus Disease banks on proximity to thrive.
It remains unclear exactly why the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria has remained stalled. In my personal opinion, it might have something to do with the country’s youth-heavy population. This is arguable.
Pakistan, which is much more similar to Nigeria in terms of population and land mass can be compared in the same way.
Pakistan, at over 307,000 is nearly 6 times the figure in Nigeria. The Pakistani government enforced lockdown around early March but were forced to lift it early, on May 9, because the already impoverished country could no longer withstand the shutdown. Following the ease of their lockdown, COVID-19 cases doubled, if not tripled and they were forced to reinstate a partial lockdown.
Not disregarding the hardships the shutdown has brought on the economy, I still believe it to have been the best option. Nigeria’s economy has contracted by 6.1% year on year in the second quarter of this year due to high unemployment and low volume of exports such as oil according to reports by Nigeria’s statistics bureau. This is a large figure and especially large compared to Pakistan’s contraction of .85%.
Yes the lockdown caused gross decline of the economy but one can argue that the lives saved by it are much more important.
Here’s some of the things I would have done differently;
I. If I were in a place of power, I would have ensured that the relief packages introduced in April were properly and adequately distributed. The government started an initiative that shared food such as garri, beans, tomato paste etc to each street packed in a tiny polythene bag, barely enough for one family, not to talk of the whole street! Surely this could and should have been handled better.
II. At one point, early into the lockdown, it was reported that the task force officials enforcing lockdown orders had killed more people that ne the virus itself. Given the opportunity, I would have made the force undergo proper training.
Nigeria may not be the best, but the way they have been able to contain the spread of this monstrous virus is astounding. We ought to congratulate the Nigerian government.
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Source: Vanguard News.