The Federal Government, through the Federal Ministry of Health, has been strengthening measures to ensure an outbreak in Nigeria is controlled and contained quickly. The multi-sectoral Coronavirus Preparedness Group, led by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), has since activated its national Emergency Operations Centre and will work closely with Lagos State Health authorities to respond to this case and implement firm control measures. “I wish to assure all Nigerians that have we have been beefing up our preparedness capabilities since the first confirmation of cases in China, and we will use all the resources made available by the government to respond to this case. “We have already started working to identify all the contacts of the patient, since he entered Nigeria. Please be reminded that most people who become infected may experience only mild illness and recover easily, but it can be more severe in others, particularly the elderly and persons with other underlying chronic illnesses. All Nigerians should take care of their health and maintain hand and respiratory hygiene to protect themselves and others, including their own families, following the precautions below: 1. Regularly and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water, and use alcohol-based hand sanitiser. 2. Maintain at least 1 & half metres (5 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing. 3. Persons with persistent cough or sneezing should stay home or keep a social distance, but not mix in crowd. 4. Make sure you and people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene, meaning cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or into your sleeve at the bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately. 5. Stay home if you feel unwell with symptoms like fever, cough and difficulty in breathing. Please call NCDC toll free number which is available day and night, for guidance- 0800-970000-10. Do not engage in self-medication 6. Stay informed on the latest developments about COVID-19 through official channels on TV and Radio, including the Lagos State Ministry of Health, NCDC and Federal Ministry of Health. Citizens must not abuse social media and indulge in spreading misinformation that causes fear and panic. The Federal Ministry of Health, through Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, will continue to provide updates and will initiate all measures required to prevent the spread of any outbreak in Nigeria,” announced Dr. Osagie Ehanire, Hon. Minister of Health. As at the time of filing this article, over 9,000 cases have been confirmed in Nigeria, over 3,000 cases have been discharged and about 300 deaths have been recorded in 35 states and the Federal Capital Territory, having carried out 48,544 tests. AKWA IBOM COVID-19 INDEX CASES -Dr Otobong Asuquo, a specialist in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, after recovering from the disease at Ibom Specialty Hospital. As at April 1, 2020, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) confirmed 5 cases of the disease in Akwa Ibom State, and Dr Otobong Asuquo, a specialist in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, was one of the cases. Dr Asuquo, in his detailed account after recovering from the disease at Ibom Specialist Hospital in Uyo, said he received a call immediately from the state COVID-19 team to get set that an ambulance would be coming to pick him. Different thoughts went through his mind: his dear wife, children, and when he saw how others in different parts of the world were passing away, he thought his end was near! At the isolation centre, Dr Asuquo said he enjoyed his stay because of the privacy, the modern facilities, and equipment at the hospital. “You don't know what is happening and who is in the next room. Constant water and light, it's like having the U.S. in Akwa Ibom,” he said in a video chat. He added that he was surprised to know that all the rooms there are equipped with Television sets (with DSTV) and that there's free WIFI for browsing the Internet, which made him stay updated and worked on his personal project. Although he was silent on the treatment he received that led to his recovery in less than two weeks, he was thankful to the state government for a job well done. “I want to give kudos to the Akwa Ibom State Government because I know without them, this wouldn't have been possible and also for the [COVID-19] team.” Akwa Ibom State so far has 35 active cases of the disease, with 2 deaths and 14 recoveries of which Dr Asuquo is one of them.
Sometimes in our earthly lives, some deleterious situations show up, and it feels like the firmament above is soon tumbling down, beckoning the very end to everything about this life, threatening our very existence. But soon we come to terms with the fact that such times would come, stay a while and leave, for it is established that only tough people last, and never tough times! Trust me, that is truly where we are now.
Sometime in 2019, as that year was nearing its end, another atrocious vista in the history of man was opened, with China as its starting point. At the time, the Hong Kong protests were at their very peak, and sympathies from world’s governments, organizations and individuals soared in commensurate with the swelling remonstrations themselves.
Then the world had thought the tumultuous face-off between the Chinese authorities that had taken over the administration of the territory of Hong Kong from United Kingdom since 1997 and the dogged dissenters was enough trouble for the rest of the globe at the time.
At a time when the Arab Spring kind of confrontations had acquiesced to some major or subtle socio-political reforms across the Middle Eastern and Near Eastern nations, the Sino-Hong Kong lingering conflict presented itself as centre of attraction to the world. While world watchers were passionately wishing that atrocities against Hong Kong demonstrators should cease, alas, news of some plaguing endemic virus disease deadlier than SARS that had once been borne from the part of the world began to filter in.
This time, Wuhan community in China was to be the birthplace of this dreaded disease that was to scourge humanity once again.
The endemic nature of the virus on Wuhan populace caused an abrupt switch in world attention, and lent credence to one of the initial conspiracy theories that the virus was a biological weapon invented to whip docility out of the ever swelling Hong Kong belligerent protesters.
As many dissenting elements as were arrested, were said to be taken to government concentration facility alleged to be situated in Wuhan, where the virus was purportedly released on the people.
It was easy, therefore, for the world to shudder and swallow the myth that the plague was only the business of the Chinese, and so it should just deal with it the way it can.
Reality soon dawned on humanity when there arose hues and cries from other ends of the globe over pandemic crisis that was sweeping across landscapes with fleeting alacrity, taking toll on lives and crippling economies.
So grim is the awful experience that beyond the harm’s way which Coronavirus has brought humanity at this time, certain persons and fate are bringing calamities on the people of the world still.
When recently storm wind swept away residential structures, that also claimed more than 90 lives and property along Bangladeshi coastal fronts; last week a Pakistani aircraft plummeted and crashed killing 97 out of 99 passengers on board; other natural occurrences, such fire outbreaks, one which just occurred in Ogbe-Ogonogo Market in Delta State two days past, vehicular accidents, collapsed structures that all cost lives, are minute few among the vast number of fatal incidents that have struck humanity amidst the pandemic crisis.
We are also all feeling the horrible pinch of wickedness of man to man: the bombings of Islamic insurgents and extremists in some countries of the world, including the Boko Haram in Nigeria, on a Coronavirus-stricken populace.
Now, in some lesser dimension, when some law enforcement agents were mandated by the authorities of our very own Akwa Ibom State government, the wickedness of man in pandemic-damned moments such as these, were made to rub on us.
Like I said earlier, many of us have all been made to have a feel in one way or the other of the extortionate ways of these officials of the law on our roads in the height of the downright lockdown.
A day was that my in-law had to pick up his wife who was in an essential duty, by say 11pm. Armed with his pass, he met about two police officers at a regular roadblock.
He meandered through a narrow opening by their beckoning, but was halted by one of the officers who walked up to his car, hopped in and ordered that he (my in-law) should drive down to their station.
My in-law having simply obliged, and in clear demonstration that there was hardly any case of breach of law on the part of my in-law, the officer backtracked and began to demand for money, to which the former denied having any on him at the moment. But the officer, bent on his extortion culture, insisted the gentleman should part with some money.
By now the bickering has taken both men out of the car and onto the road where some spectacular thing happened! My in-law standing his ground, our cop friend couldn’t hide it anymore but to do the unusual: “Look, my friend, why are you lying? You have money on you and you think you can deceive me, abi!”, barked the now fretful officer.
“Ah, officer,” perplexed and mouth agape, my in-law managed to utter. “Look, let me tell you, you have two hundred naira in that your trousers pocket,” firmly pointing at a side pocket of this helpless guy!
Transfixed, my in-law feebly dipped his hand into his side pocket and drew out the only two hundred naira note and handed it over to the police officer.
Beyond the trauma of losing a cool cash of two hundred bucks in these trying moments, my in-law is still finding it most difficult to come to terms with the reality of an officer of the law who was supposed to be out there to secure the state and its citizenry against the threat of the worldwide pandemic, of not only “robbing” him of his cash, but having to “see” and “know” where his cash was cached in the very recess of his pocket!
The entire drama ended right there. Now, you can see what has befallen us while the pangs of Coronavirus continue to bite and sting!