Whilst many Nigerians, especially the poor who have battled hunger during lockdown are happy that lockdown has been eased, a virologist and World Health Organisation (WHO) consultant, Professor Oyewale Tomori says easing lockdown is a mistake the country will pay for with rising number of Covid-19 infections and deaths, advising federal and state governments to re-introduce the lockdown.
Though Tomori acknowledged that the testing capacity of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has improved and has helped in discovering more cases of infection, yet he says lockdown has been eased too-early-too-soon in Nigeria.
He theorised that Nigeria may only know the number of infected people as the NCDC testing capacity improves consistently.
The NCDC claimed that as of May 10 it had conducted about 23,835 tests, at the rate of approximately 120 per million of our population.
Whilst many people believe the NCDC could have done better, the center claimed testing capacity around the world is fully stretched, making it hard to get an adequate number of test kits. This consequentially results in plenty infections being undetected.
The pioneer Vice Chancellor of Redeemer’s University alerted that federal and state governments have erred by easing the lockdown on May 4 and calls for harmony amongst different levels of government at fighting Covid-19. His call was underscored by report that some states such as Kogi and Cross River are working off tangent to the rules set by the (NCDC) in Nigeria.
The Professor who is also the Chairman, Expert Committee on Polio and Immunisation in Nigeria disputed claimed by Kogi State and others who claim there is no case of Covid-19 in their environments. He said: “It is disheartening that we have a situation of lack of coherence and absence of collaboration among the different arms of our government. This is democracy in disarray, turning executive discipline into executive defiance. The fight against COVID-19 is a war for our health and national social and economic security, a war to be handled with a collective determination. This is a time for the mature use of power.”
“Tomori postulated that government may need to improve on equitable distribution of palliatives as opposed to relaxing lockdown.
In his interview with Guardian newspaper, he said the governments should have proactively urged the populace to improve compliance with hygiene and other guidelines to protect life.
According to him: “The government should have made the people realize that it is not the government that will die from COVID-19, but the individual Nigerian. We have a choice to make: let the COVID-19 hold its sway and have its way until we achieve the desired high immunity (with consequent high morbidity and mortality), or we return to total lockdown provided that our people will strictly comply with the guidelines of hand-washing, safe distancing and avoidance of congregating in large groups and the government will vastly improve on alleviating the suffering and hunger pangs of the people.”
He re-iterated the significance of testing at helping to understand the number of Covid-19 infections and other peculiarities it has in a nation of about 200 million people.
He said: “To better interpret our data on confirmed cases, we must know how much testing for COVID-19 we are conducting. The message of the WHO is test, test, and test. The more tests conducted, the easier it is to track the spread of the virus and reduce transmission. Many countries followed the advice, identifying a greater number of cases at an earlier stage, isolating infected individuals, and limiting the spread of the disease. An example is New Zealand which was conducting an average of 1,690 tests per million of her population.
In South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa bluntly yet humanely tells the populace that they can and must expect infections to rise as more people return to work.