BY PRINCE MACDONALD ENWERE
With the outbreak of the the deadly novel zoonotic viral infection called Coronavirus or COVID-19, the global community is now under serious ravage. From Europe to Asia, Africa and America there is tension. People are dying like flies- just like the reggae legend Lucky Dube said in one of popular Albums. The outbreak of this upper respiratory tract virus has shutdown the globe. Business activities have been paralyzed, movements restricted all over the world, Churches, Mosques and Schools have been shutdown. Man is now leaving in isolation. The resultant effect will be famine and hunger which of course will be more fatal and deadlier than the virus itself.
The pandemic whose rapid escalation started early this year has continued to spread in Nigeria like a weird fire. With its rapid spread, Nigeria has recorded about 777 confirmed cases with about 132 deaths across the 26 States of the Federation including FCT. The virus has crippled all human activities in the country, the system is now lockdown. The nation is now in a standstill mood. As usual the poor masses are at the receiving end. While other countries of the World are putting in place some palliative measures to curb the effects of the pandemic, Nigerian Government is only ordering her citizens to stay indoors and probably die of hunger. One expects that Government at all levels by now should have provided some palliatives and relief measures to enable citizens face the excruciating effects of the pandemic. It is quite incredible that up to this moment some state governments have not paid February and March salaries to their civil servants. Is this not sheer wickedness? How can a responsible and responsive Government owe workers under this devastating period? .
In Imo State here, the story is not palatable to the ear at all. Imolites are leaving in tension and apprehension. No effort to ameliorate and salvage the people from the devastating challenges of the pandemic. The Government is giving a deaf ears to the welfare of the people under this present condition. The rate of hunger in the land has increased. Well, we commend the Governor for setting up a special committee headed by Prof. Maurice Iwu to control and prevent the spread of Coronavirus in the state. While Government action is commendable, it is also important to point out that the committee is not proactive at all. Maybe because of lack of fund or cooperation from the side of the Government.
It is important for the state government to avoid playing politics with the situation on ground. Prof. Maurice Iwu committee should be adequately empowered by the government to prevent the rapid spread of the virus in the state. Like I said earlier, the committee is not proactive and effective enough. As a matter of profound urgency, the committee should with immediate effect begin to intensify action to isolate and curb the pandemic virus in the state.
As a matter of necessity, there should be a policy framework for a robust outbreak Response system in the State. The committee should also adopt an Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response strategy. This policy and strategy will help to prevent the spread and importation of new cases in the state. The policy will also help to put in place strong measures to detect the disease early, isolate and treat cases , trace contact and promote social distancing measure.
The capacity for outbreak response should be streamlined with a clear coordination platform.
There should also be a regular epidemic intelligence gathering and enhanced surveillance.
The committee should work in conjunction with Imo State Orientation Agency and the community leaders to improve the awareness creation and information dissimination strategy. Especially in the area of aderance to social distancing, regular hand washing , hand sanitizing and other best precautionary measures in other to curb the rapid spread of the pandemic.