The World Health Organization has warned that countries run the risk of an aggravated second wave of coronavirus infections, if previously imposed lockdowns are lifted prematurely.
The Global health body has advised that countries be very careful of relaxing restrictions, despite the fact that economies are facing extreme adversity.
Speaking at a news briefing in Geneva, The WHO director General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said in the virtual conference that the organization has been working with countries to set up safety guidelines for reopening. Although he went on stress that this would have to be approached with a high level of caution, to prevent a “deadly resurgence” in infections.
This however, is easier said than done in developing economies, where many families depend on income generated on day-to-day basis and stimulus packages are not available.
The Coronavirus Lockdown Situation in Nigeria
Following 4 weeks of lockdown induced by the coronavirus in Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari expressed what seemed like an inevitable consequence, when he stated that the restrictive measures had come at “a very heavy economic cost,” which invariably left the government with few options.
As a result, plans were set in motion to ease the lockdown in Lagos, Ogun state, and the FCT, starting Monday, May 4th, in an attempt to save the economy from completely plummeting.
While this is understandable from an economic perspective, several question marks have been raised from a public health stand point, and rightly so, as the country recorded an alarming 125% increase in number of active cases during the week leading up to the lockdown being eased.
A total of 1256 active COVID-19 cases were discovered by the NCDC between Monday 27th April and Sunday, May 3rd, compared to 556 the previous week, taking the country’s total confirmed cases to 2675, as at Sunday. If this upward trend is anything to go by, it sure seems like the number of new cases does not appear to be tailing off.
Consequences of Easing the Lockdown Prematurely
Although a few restrictive measures including curfew between 8pm — 6am, and the ban on large gatherings are still in place, many still fear that in the coming weeks, Nigeria could be faced with an exponential increase in active cases. Similar to neighboring country Ghana, who recorded a 60% increase in active cases 11 days after their lockdown was also lifted for economic reasons.
The lack of bed space in isolation centers and accredited hospitals across the country could create a “frightening scenario,” the Nigerian Medical association warned in a statement to the BBC.
While the Nigerian Union of Allied Health Professionals, said “the deficit of health professionals and medical facilities would not be able to handle whatever upsurge that may arise due to the high incidences of community transmission”.
These comments paint a picture of a healthcare system that could be potentially stretched to its limits, if the relaxation of the lockdown results in an exponential increase in infections.
What are the Positives?
The situations is definitely not all doom and gloom, Nigerians can take solace in the fact that more people are able to return to work, and businesses are reopening. Hence, there will be less families at risk of not being able to provide the basics.
A general health consciousness has now been instilled in the population which did not typically exist pre-lockdown. Nigerians now carry an awareness in the back of their minds, of the consequences small actions like forgetting to wash their hands, may have on their health.
Is it tougher to stay protected now than during the lockdown? It definitely is, most especially for people who now have to return to work.
In the video below, Tremendoc resident Physician, Dr. Yewande Alebiosu, gives some useful advice on how Nigerians can stay safe even as the coronavirus lockdown is relaxed:
You can now speak with Dr. Yewande and 200+ licensed doctors online, with Tremendoc. Click Here, to get started.