As a people, we must all acknowledge that COVID-19 is now a reality, and we must reframe our lives to live in harmony with it.
On March 30, 2020, the Federal Government imposed the first 14-day lockdown to halt the spread of the coronavirus in Nigeria.
The lockdowns were reviewed at various points, but the government insisted that the COVID-19 Protocols be followed because people’s freedom of movement could not be restricted indefinitely.
To ensure the implementation of the COVID-19 Protocols, President Muhammadu Buhari signed the COVID-19 Health Protection Regulations 2021 on January 26, 2021.
The regulation made wearing a face mask in public places mandatory.
The use of a face mask as a tool for COVID-19 protection is widely accepted and recommended around the world.
According to the new federal regulation, no one in Nigeria will be allowed to enter a public place without wearing a face mask. The person’s nose and mouth must be covered by the face mask.
Markets (including open markets), malls, supermarkets, shops, restaurants, hotels, event centers, gardens, leisure parks, recreation centers, motor parks, fitness centers, or any other similar establishment are all considered public places under the regulation.
Places of worship, workplaces and schools, banks, public transportation vehicles, hostels, boarding houses, and detention centers are also listed as public places.
In all parts of Nigeria, failing to wear a nose and mouth mask in public is a crime.
Offenders face a six-month prison sentence, a N200,000 fine, or both.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) discovered that face mask policies and social distancing are no longer strictly enforced.
Visits to amusement parks, gardens, and shopping malls revealed that Nigerians do not wear face masks or practice social distancing.
Few people embrace mask use and follow public health advice.
Despite the virus’s rapid mutation, Nigerians are not applying these principles to the best of their abilities.
However, some health experts believe that high levels of consistent communication from those asking people to change their behavior are required. They pointed out that policymakers have traditionally prioritized enforcement and deterrence.
They also emphasized the importance of mass vaccination, stating that COVID-19 is here to stay.
Human immunity to the illness is one of the key factors governing the future of COVID-19, according to WHO.
Immunity to any pathogen, including SARS-CoV-2, is not as simple as flipping a light switch. It’s more akin to a dimmer switch: The human immune system can provide varying degrees of partial protection from pathogens, which can prevent severe illness but not necessarily infection or transmission.
According to Dr. Samuel Eleojo, a public health practitioner, a large number of people will be infected, and the vaccine will be required to reduce person-to-person transmission.
Eleojo predicted that there would be pockets of people who refused the vaccines, as well as localized outbreaks, but that it would eventually become one of the “regular” coronaviruses
“However, this transition will take time.
“The exact post-pandemic trajectory of SARS-CoV-2 will be determined by three major factors: how long Nigerians retain immunity to the virus, how quickly the virus evolves, and how widely older populations become immune during the pandemic itself,” he explained.
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The expert added that COVID-19 could eventually become a much milder illness, but that for the time being, vaccination and surveillance were critical to bringing the pandemic to an end.
According to him, while communication is essential for shifting mindsets, high-risk situations have also demonstrated the importance of the government designing safety guidelines around how people actually behave, rather than how the government hopes people will behave.
“Some Nigerians will find themselves in situations where the rules are unclear, social pressures make bending the rules appealing, or a distraction causes them to lose sight of the rules,” he emphasized.
According to Prof. Olatunji Kolawole, Professor of Medical Virology, the entire world has been living with the reality of COVID19 since it was declared a global pandemic by WHO in January 2020.
Kolawole, a member of Nigeria’s Ministerial Expert Advisory Committee on COVID-19 Health Sector Response, stated that Nigerians were not left out of this reality.
He noted that daily rising cases from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) confirmed the fact that there were high rates of community transmission, indicating that Nigerians were now infected with COVID 19.
“This is a serious concern for me as a virologist, especially given the rising number of cases of concern variants in the country. Unfortunately, there is a complete lack of compliance with non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) preventive measures among the general public.
“This could result in an increase in case positivity rates and infection transmission, resulting in severe cases and, invariably, an increase in the number of deaths,” he explained.
The professor advised Nigerians to take responsibility by following all preventive measures and making themselves available to receive vaccines.
“Yes, Nigerians should have a high level of trust in their leaders and decision-makers, and consistent risk communication to the grassroots by community gatekeepers as well as states and local government areas will promote effective viral infection containment.
“I am convinced that if we all, as citizens, supplement government efforts and public-private partnership roles by taking responsibility, we will surely get out of the woods as soon as possible,” he added.
Dr Omokhudu Idogho, Managing Director of the Society for Family Health (SFH), stated that the new Delta variant had altered the dynamics of the pandemic in the country.
According to him, the number of cases continues to rise, and the associated mortality rate also rises geometrically.
Idogho emphasized that over 18,000 cases and 150 fatalities had been reported in the previous 30 days. “It appears that we celebrated too soon and threw caution to the wind.
“Nigerians have yet to accept the reality of the third wave. The secrecy surrounding COVID-19 infections and fatalities exacerbates risk perception, as does a sense of triumphalism about our invincibility to COVID-19 resulting from the success of our response to the first and second waves
COVID-19 is now a reality
“As a people, we must all acknowledge that COVID-19 is now a reality, and we must reframe our existence in order to live positively with it. To protect ourselves and our loved ones, we must all take personal responsibility.”
Nigerians, according to the managing director, should do this by taking advantage of the opportunity provided by the country’s vaccination program’s second phase to get vaccinated.
“We now have a broader range of vaccines to meet the needs of everyone. We must continue to use non-pharmaceutical prevention methods such as face masks, hand washing, and avoiding close personal contact,” he said.
Aside from vaccination, Nigeria’s best defense against the coronavirus pandemic remains voluntary adherence to all COVID-19 Protocols.