Home Editorial Nigeria’s response to COVID-19: Looking forward to 2021 with optimism

Nigeria’s response to COVID-19: Looking forward to 2021 with optimism

by Haruna Gimba

Nigeria recorded its first index case of COVID-19 pandemic on February 27, 2020 through an Italian citizen who flew into the country through Murtala Muhammad International Airport, Lagos State.

From the first case, the incidence of COVID-19 grows steadily in Nigeria, moving from an imported case and elitist pattern to community transmission, spreading across the 36 states of the federation.

The pandemic caught the government unawares; there are issues of inadequate testing laboratories, under-testing, inadequate palliatives and economic stimuli for millions of citizens who live below the poverty radar.

The government delayed in closing the country’s airspace, which was done almost a month after the first index case was reported. It was also hesitant to lockdown the country due to lack of economic stimuli for the poor.

When the country eventually closed down its airspace and declared a total lockdown, the COVID-19 has already spread all over the country, with reported cases of community transmission.

However, through the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 (PTF) under the Chairmanship of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, the government was able to recover.

At least one Testing Laboratory in each of the 36 states of the federation and Abuja was established through the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). Also, Isolation and Treatment Centres were set up by both the federal and government of the 36 states.

Despite being reactive to the pandemic at the beginning, the Federal Government has made giant stride in containing the COVID-19 in the country, as such the country has one of the fewer deaths and more recoveries and discharged cases, compare to other African countries with less population but recorded higher death toll.

One of the most important lessons brought by the pandemic is, the impossibility of the usual medical tourism embarked upon by the government officials and most Nigerian elites.

Therefore, as we enter the year 2021, we call on the Nigerian government to speed up action to acquire the COVID-19 Vaccine and ensure equity and transparent distribution of the vaccine across the country, to make sure every Nigerian citizen get the vaccine.

Nigerians are also looking forward to pledge by President Muhammadu Buhari to establish oxygen plants in 36 states and FCT, Abuja. Therefore, we suggest that Nigeria should mobilise its own domestic resources to procure the vaccines thereby complimenting the International Partners support.

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