By Victor Anya
The outbreak of the corona virus in Wuhan City, China has led to the untimely death of many people across the world including Nigeria. In the last count, about 21.4 million people have been infected by the virus; about 5 million people that tested positive to the virus have been discharged while 771,000 people have died of the virus. In Nigeria, 350,000 people have been tested, 48,770 people tested positive to the virus, 36,290 people have recovered while 974 people have died of the virus. Among these deaths were prominent Nigerians like the late Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Mallam Abba Kyari, who died of complications from COVID-19, the immediate past governor of Oyo State, Chief Abiola Ajimobi, also fell to cold hands of the virus; a popular ace broadcaster, Dan Foster also succumbed to the ferious power of the virus. Senator Buruji Kashamu also died of the novel virus; this is aside numerous Nigerians who were not prominent and popular enough to attract media reports.
Some sitting governors including Bala Mohammed of Bauchi, Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna, Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State and Seyi Makinde of Oyo State once tested positive to the virus but recovered after undergoing extensive medications.
It is however worrisome that in spite of this glaring evidences about the reality and devastating effects of the corona virus, many Nigerians don’t still believe that the virus is real. It is understandable that the various governments at the local, state and federal levels haven’t done too well in terms of information dissemination about the genuineness of the virus but the death tolls so far and the escalating numbers of infected persons are clear evidences that the virus is real.
The belief that the corona virus is a hoax is not even limited to the unenlightened and uneducated people of the society; many educated people among us also hold the same view that the virus is a hoax. This is why the situation is precarious and also troublesome. I met somebody who told me that he went to visit a friend in his office and the friend stretched his hand with the intention to have a handshake with him but he refused to stretch his for a handshake. He reminded his friend that corona virus is still in existence. He said his friend grasped his hand forcefully and shook hands with him saying “There is nothing like corona virus, my friend!” According to this man, his friend who didn’t believe in the existence of corona virus works with a media organization. The man further said that another man whom he knew also visited the same office and also wanted to shake hands with him too but he refused to do so.
He reminded his second friend about COVID-19 but his friend also told him that there was nothing like corona virus. His second friend who also holds the view that corona virus is not real also works with a media organization. The problem is that if people that supposed to know because of their exposure and the kind of work they do can discredit the existence of corona virus, what should be expected from the illiterate market men, women, girls or boys who spends much of their time in the market without access to radio and television? This is one major problem that is surrounding the corona virus pandemic!
Considering the massive ignorance or disbelief surrounding the corona virus, there is every need for governments at all tiers of governance to do more in terms of disseminating information about the existence of the virus. There should be massive education about the existence of the novel virus so as to contain its spread. This the various governments can achieve by recruiting volunteers that will go from village to village; from town to town and from city to city with buses and mega phones to educate the masses about the genuineness and the danger that is associated with the corona virus pandemic.
To protect ourselves against deadly virus, we should all observe the safety precautions prescribed by the World Health Organization and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). These safety measures include: keep social distancing, wear a mask if you must go out, if it is not necessary make sure you stay at home, wash your hands frequently with soap under running water, if you must cough, cough into your elbow or cough into a tissue paper and trash it and sneeze into your elbow. All of us can observe these simple health guidelines in order to protect ourselves against the virus.