Compliment of the Seasons!
As we all prepare for the holiday and festive season, Lawyers Alert encourages all to #TakeResponsibility to limit the spread of #COVID19 . Always wear a face mask and practice other preventive measures.
The World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) regional director has said that in the past few weeks the number of new COVID-19 cases had doubled in more than half of European member states. He said that 300,000 new infections were reported across Europe last week alone and weekly cases had exceeded those reported during the first peak in March. According to the WHO, there have been five million confirmed cases and more than 228,000 fatalities across Europe since the pandemic began. WHO has also predicted that with the commencement of the winter, countries in northern hemisphere will witness massive spread of COVID-19. Altogether over 30 million persons in the world have contracted the virus since December 2019 when it was discovered in Wuhan, China, till date.
In view of these staggering statistics, there is need for countries all over the world to realize that though the precautionary measures being adopted since the beginning of this year have helped significantly in reducing the spread, COVID-19 is still very much with us and if we fail to enforce the precautionary measures, the spread this time may be much more disastrous. In Nigeria, as in other African countries where we have greater proportion of the world’s vulnerable persons, the importance of enforcing precautionary measures cannot be overemphasized. The quick response from President Mohammadu Buhari’s government and from other state governors leading to the lock down of virtually the entire country was very effective in curtailing the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria. Also effective is the social distancing rule, the use of face masks in public places, coughing into elbows, and regular washing of hands and sanitizing.
Doubtless, the negative effect of these precautionary measures was massive. Many countries, including Nigeria, went down into recession, though some economists reported that even shortly before the lockdown in March 2020, Nigeria has already plunged into recession. Many workers lost their jobs during the lockdown in Nigeria. The daily-paid workers went through grueling period as they could not go out to work and earn a living. Be that as it may, the positive impact of the enforcement of the precautionary measures outweighed the negative effect. Think of the 200 million Nigerians whose lives were protected against the deadly COVID-19 infection.
Applying Sustained Precautionary Measures
Globally, some of these precautionary measures have been relaxed. The airports, seaports, cities and public places have reopened. In Nigeria, we have quickly gone back to square one. Presently, it is as though there is nothing like COVID-19. The social distancing rules are no longer observed. Commercial transporters are now conveying more passengers in their vehicles. Our churches and mosques have reopened. Our schools and colleges have reopened. But for the ASUU strike, all our universities will have also reopened. Other precautionary measures like regular washing of hands with soap and hand sanitizing are no longer observed. Go to our courts of law and other government offices, only very few are providing hand sanitizers and water as well as soap for members of the public. The same goes for the use of face masks. Only very few Nigerians are using face masks presently.
Does it mean, then, that COVID-19 has gone? Are we not presently recording cases of COVID-19 infection? The fact is: COVID-19 has come but has not gone. We are still recording cases of COVID-19 infection. The infection is still spreading. Sometimes we witnessed drops in the number of infected persons, but the virus is still as potent as it was. Presently, there is apprehension that there is going to be further spread and it will be much more disastrous. WHO has confirmed this.
What is important to note at this stage is that if there is going to be further spread, the effect will be much more disastrous. This is because, people are no longer observing the social distancing rules. This writer is not saying that Nigeria should be locked down perpetually. While the lockdown may be eased to the extent that people can go about their normal business, as it is presently, other preventive measures should be STRICTLY observed. For instance, the use of face masks should be enforced in public places. Commercial transporters should reduce the number of passengers they carry. Overcrowding should be avoided in public places. And in all public places, water, soap and hand sanitizers should be provided to members of the public.
The last straw that will definitely break the camel’s yoke is vaccine. This is what the whole world is waiting for. COVID-19 has been devastating and a renewed spread of the infection can be much more devastating, but with a vaccine that is safe and effective, the spread will not only be punctuated, the virus will be demystified. Presently over 150 vaccines are being developed to control the spread of the infection, but none has completed clinical trials yet. In August 2020, Russia became the first country to license a vaccine for local use. Russian scientists later reported that early signs showed signs of an immune response. But other experts doubted the effectiveness, stating that the trials were too small to prove effectiveness and safety.
Among all the drugs being tested, only steroids have been proven to save lives and the discovery has been a significant breakthrough. The United Kingdom’s (UK’s) recovery trial points to the fact that the steroid dexamethasone is safe and effective, and “cut the risk of death by a third for patients on ventilators and by a fifth for those on oxygen.” Another research proved that another type of steroids called Hydrocortisone is equally effective.
The Fate of Vulnerable Persons
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, those that are worse hit are the vulnerable persons. In view of the expected renewed surge/spike in the spread of COVID-19, the next six months (June 2021) will be crucial to the health and wellbeing of vulnerable persons the world over, especially those in the developing countries. Apart from the fact that it will take up to six months or more to come up with a clinically tested and approved vaccine, another challenge vulnerable persons will face is access to the vaccine. Vulnerable persons can hardly make both ends meet, not even to talk of having money to pay for the vaccine. Again, if vaccines are made free by the UN through WHO, how soon can these vaccines reach vulnerable persons who are mostly dwelling on the fringes of the society?
For this reason, while we await the emergence of vaccines that will put paid to the deadly virus, it is important that government of countries all over the world enforce preventive measures to protect vulnerable persons against contracting the infection.
Lawyers Alert hereby puts our readers on notice that this article is based on the writer’s opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of the organization except otherwise stated.