By: Lateef Ositelu
The recent outbreak of a novel corona virus N-COV on December 1, 2019 in Wuhan, a city in China has thrown the World into health pandemonium due to it strain nature of infecting people and spreading like weird somber across the globe. Before the World could uncover its debilitating effects in China, it has infected over 90, 000 in a swap with the record of 2, 900 death tolls. And within a twinkle of an eye, the virus had hit the Chinese nationality with brazing bewilderment to struggle in containing the novel virus whose source is yet unearth. The only option presently known for curbing the spread is to quarantine the affected people and restrict peoples’ movement.
These measures, the Chinese government resorted to by embarking on partial lockdown or complete shutdown of provinces and cities which invariably had direct and indirect impact on socio-economic activities around the world. And, as part of proactive measure the World Health Organization (WHO) and other health partners across the globe adopted to contain, and unrifled the mystery behind the transmissibility of novel Coronavirus Disease which broke out in December, 2019 had led to christening of the viral disease as COVID-19. Experts say coronavirus is a family of viruses identified only with animals. These viruses are called zoonotic viruses transmissible only from animal to humans. Examples of zoonotic viruses are; Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-COV) found in dromedary Camel and Sever Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-COV) found in Civet cats.
But COVID-19 appears to be completely different types of coronavirus which is not zoonotic and its viral source is still under laboratory test. Chinas National Health Commission noted that the virus is air bone, highly contagious and it’s being transmitted from humans to humans through contact with infected person. This invariably makes it a novel virus that requires urgent measures to contain before growing wild and causing quantum socio-economic havoc to global wellbeing.
It should be noted that at the hasty outbreak of the viral disease in January 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) in its preliminary findings concluded that the COVID-19 outbreak in China was a Public Health Emergency not epidemic. But weeks after this disclosure, the N-COV viral disease had gone weird rampaging over 227 countries outside China. Not leaving South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Israel and even United States to mention just a few and stealthily cracking the foundation of global economic.
Though WHO had initially underrated the rushing spread of COVID-19 but when it had constant reports of the virus blazing burs hitting Asia, Middle East, America, Europe and even Africa, the organization realized that the world was ignorantly dealing with a far dangerous virus they have ever thought and announced it as a global pandemic, posing a serious threat to human existence in 21st Century. At this juncture WHO is calling for public adherence to medical precaution and collective effort to contain the spread?
As of March 2020, the global death toll according to Aljazeera news reports had hit over 4,500 while 105,000 people have been infected in more than 90 countries while other countries worst hit outside China recording up to 5,858 cases alone. Medical experts had disclosed that the incubation period for COVID-19 in individuals is within 14 days of contacting the virus.
The general public is enjoined to look out for some of the symptoms of the novel coronavirus which may come like pneumonia, cough, fever and breathing difficulties, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and eventual death. WHO had disclosed that the disease is a viral pneumonia and that, antibiotics or antivirus drugs cannot cure nor stem the spread of the flu. The recovery of affected persons depends on the strength of immune system. No wonder WHO and Centre for Disease Control (CDC) among other health partners had warn people world over to adhere strictly to health caveat so as to collectively contain the spread of the novel COVID-19.
People are therefore enjoined to wash their hands regularly with soap and water, use hand sanitizer, stop shaking hands unnecessarily with people while greeting, cover the mouth and nose with medical mask, avoid close contact with people with symptoms of respiratory illness; such as coughing and sneezing, clean and disinfect surrounding, stay away from overcrowded areas and embark on self-quarantine among others. These health precautions are said to be the current available solution at curbing the weird COVID-19 spreading its fangs.
Currently, the virus spread has low record in Africa, which is a great respite to the continent but the government at all levels should not take this for liberty. There is need for collaboration among all Presidents and heads of government in Africa to tighten their borders against any viral leakage that might further embarrass the continents health sector. They should also put in place stringent measures to curb its spread in Africa, considering the fact the continent cannot claim to be financially buoyant at fighting any outbreak. And no one could forget in a hurry how Ebola epidemic had upturned the continent before the world respite arrived. Unlike huge amount of money countries like China, Italy, Spain, France, United States, United Kingdom among other developed countries voted towards containing the virus spread. African countries are still far cry from coughing out such huge budgetary allocation for tackling emergencies.
Consequently an adage says “prevention is better than cure,” Africans should take a cue from Taiwan a country with close proximity with China still recorded very low bite from COVID-19 due to prompt precautionary measures put in place by the central government to contain the virus right from its outbreak in December 1st 2019.
Nigeria is the second country in Africa after Egypt that had a brief glimpse of COVID-19 outbreak on February 25, 2020 through an Italian Engineer who came from Milan and had stopover in Lagos before resuming at a cement factory in Ogun state. He fell sick and tested positive to novel Coronavirus. But the proactive measures put in place by the trio of Federal, Lagos and Ogun State Governments to stem the spread of the virus was estimable. The Italian was quarantined and all those who had contact with him including 156 fellow airlines passengers were traced for adequate medical screening.
Other measure put in place by the Federal Government to contain the spread of the COVID-19 and protect the most populous black nation in Africa by embarking on screening procedure at the port of entry, establishing Virus Free Test Centre through National Centre For Disease Control (NCDC), sustaining its border closure with neighboring countries and also encouraging the Ministry of Health across the state to carry out Public Health Sensitization Campaign, as well as to distribute hand bills and postal across communities to educate people on how best to contain the virus and live healthy always.
In the same vein, the Ogun State Government has also taken some stringent measures considering its direct involvement in the Italian COVID-19 destination drama by suspending the 2020 Africa Drum Festival. The release stated that festival will attract participants from all over the world and as a responsive and responsible government it is expedient that public interest should override any selfish political aggrandizement. And not toying with rampaging COVID-19 pandemic that has shredded even the most developed and technologically advanced countries of Europe, Asia and America.
The governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun also put in place joint public health campaign on COVID-19 with the support of WHO, NCDC, Ministry of Health among other health partners that sensitized the State Civil Servants at Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta. Postal and hand bills were also distributed to enlighten the people on precautionary measures to take at containing the virus, while jingles were also produced on COVID-19 to enlighten the general public on radio and television stations.
As the confirmed case of infected persons with COVID-19 increased to eight in Nigeria, the Federal government immediately constituted COVID-19 Response Committee among the state governors to tackle the spread of the virus. And in response to this, Governor Dapo Abiodun has directed that all schools be closed. While restricting gathering of people above 50 persons across the state, and other measures to contain the spread of the virus.
Experts say grave global economic crisis is pending with every economic measures being embarked upon by most countries at containing the spread of COVID-19 pandemic. For example over 260 countries have taken punitive measures ranging from border closure, placing travel ban on countries most hit by the COVID-19 resulting to collateral global travel ban, partial or complete lockdown of cities, towns, provinces, schools, tourist and religious sites, as well as suspension or cancellation of all sporting activities such as; football matches, basketball, boxing bouts among others. Experts say global economic may worsen if there is no urgent check to control the placement of travel bans by countries. It was projected that global airlines revenue will fall by $4.5 billion in the first quarter of 2020 as most of these airlines operators will cancel flights.
Reports indicated that, China, the second economy in the world, after United States is temporarily shut down due to outbreak of novel corona virus. Most companies have been locked down and the country has drastically reduced importation of petroleum and as one of the biggest oil importers is currently affecting global oil price. International Energy Agency (IEA) revealed that this singular act of China dropping in oil importation would not only affect OPEC structural plan in 2020 but lead to drop in oil demand and supply which may spark off fresh global oil crisis. Be that as it may, even if globalization has positioned China at the heart of complex industrial supplies chains, Nigeria should wake up from depending only on oil and quickly put place structural measures to diversify its economy, although most companies worldwide depend on China for materials.
Presently, most countries that depend on China for their economic growth are currently facing challenges either in building sector, electronic, telecommunication among others. Even several companies in pharmaceutical as well as cars maker such as Nissan and Hyundai have temporally close shops as they could not get materials from China, the major supplier of industrial material due to the outbreak of novel coronavirus. With the new cases of corona virus pandemic still surging in some countries and its continuous weird spreading across the globe seem uncontained, the global economy is in dire great threat, with the entire industrialized Europe suddenly turning into epicenter of the virus and terrifying the united states to earmarked the sum of $50Billion to contain virus among other stringent administrative measures which include shorting down its border and placing travel ban on UK and Ireland among other countries most hit in the world.
A virus outbreak that has led to global suspension or cancellation of both local and international sporting activities, where Italy alone quarantined over 60million people with over 4,000 death toll, more than China’s case. Presently, nearly all countries of the world have partially or completely locked down most of their citizens at home, closed down schools, factories, business, religious centres, large gathering among others.
Considering the global confusion and tension in handling cases of COVID-19, it has evidently shown that we need divine help to contain a virus that has defiled all human techno-medical knowhow. At this juncture, the world requires complete spiritual intervention from God in prayer to show mercy and save the world from being ravaged by a weird virus.
Ositelu is from the Ministry of Information and Strategy, Ogun State, Abeokuta. Can be reached via: email@example.com or 08035495562