Since the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) was first confirmed in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late December 2019, the cases have spread to a lot of countries around the world as no continent has been spared.
The disease has since been declared as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the number of confirmed cases globally has risen to 1,835,373 with 113,361 deaths and 381,429 recoveries as at April 12, 2020. This is just as the confirmed cases in Africa have risen to over 13,600 with 742 deaths and 2,358 recoveries as of April 12, 2020.
Nigeria is not left out as one of the countries that are seriously battling to contain the outbreak of the pandemic as the confirmed cases have risen to 323 with 85 recoveries and 10 deaths as at April 12, 2020.
The Nigerian Government, just as other governments globally, has continued to roll out measures aimed at containing the rapid spread of the disease. Some of these measures, which are done in collaboration with state governments, include the shutdown of the airports for both local and international flights, the shutdown of businesses and markets, and movement restrictions.
Others are closure of land borders and seaports, travel restrictions into some states, encouragement of social distancing and some safety measures like washing of hands, maintaining good hygiene, use of hand sanitizer, wearing of face mask and so on.
However, some exemptions were made for the lockdown order. This includes that for food items, pharmaceutical and medical supplies, petroleum products distribution, essential services providers like media personnel, doctors, nurses etc
President Muhammadu Buhari had on March 29, ordered an initial lockdown for 14 days in Lagos, Ogun and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) as one of the measures aimed at containing the spread of the coronavirus disease.
Just before the President’s pronouncement, Nigeria had 111 confirmed cases with only 1 death and spread across 11 states and the FCT. The average growth rate for confirmed cases before the announcement was about 4 cases a day. Consequently, this has risen to 323 cases confirmed cases with 10 deaths spread across 19 states and the FCT. The average growth rate for confirmed cases as at April 11 is about 14 cases a day.
There has been discussion as to whether the lockdown and restrictions should stop at the expiration of the initially stated time or should be extended so as to give more time for the containment of the disease, which seems to be spreading at a faster rate.
However, the facts on ground, especially with sharp increase in confirmed cases, suggest that the government might not be relaxing the lockdown or restrictions anytime soon.
In fact, the Federal Government, through the Minister for Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and some members of the Presidential Task Force (JTF) for COVID-19 frowned at the relaxation of the restrictions by some state governments as they felt the facts on ground do not support that.
Despite criticisms from their nationals, some other African countries like South Africa, Rwanda and so on have all extended their lockdowns and restriction order.
During a media briefing on Friday last week, the Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, who doubles as the Chairman of the PTD on COVID-19, said that the decision and responsibility to extend the lockdown was exclusively that of the president to make. But he also added that looking at what is happening in other climes, you would be able to deduce what might likely happen.
Going further, he said that the president would take the decision based on information and advice given to him by experts.
However, Nigerians, especially those living in Lagos State, Ogun State and the FCT, have been very apprehensive and critical of the likely extension of the lockdown. They had complained of distress and hunger, as their daily means of livelihood have been taken away from them without any palliatives.
Over the weekend, there were reported cases of armed robbery and criminal activities by hoodlums in some parts of Lagos and Ogun States as the negative effect of this lockdown and restrictions continue to set in.
Finally, it is almost inevitable with some of the facts on ground, that the Federal Government might be considering the extension of the lockdown and restrictions.