Okay, so we have all been clamouring for the government to lock up Nigeria and curtail the movement of people. This in the hope, seriously, that it will reduce the rate of infection, reduce the number of people who transmit the disease and so help us all to battle the corona virus. The government heard the call and listened.
A little late but it is better late than never. And yes, it will help but like everything in medicine, there is a side effect.
Total lockdown may be possible only in the cities and towns where infrastructure exists. It may work in houses and flats in the suburb, where social distancing can be practised. A different approach at containment may be necessary in the slums and poverty stricken areas including rural areas and our villages. For now, how can we readjust and restructure the lockdown to fit our own society and culture.
What is next for us after the lockdown?
How can we make it palatable for the poor, the homeless and downtrodden? How do you lock up people without a reasonable social support system? How will they feed and even simply cope without the basic living essentials like electricity, water and good sanitation?
The government should work with its various agencies to reduce the burden on the people. Rents, mortgage payments, debts and bills should be postponed till the end of this lockdown. Landlords should not evict anyone at this crucial period.
The electricity supply companies and the water boards should be readily available to provide for the people either at reduced, reasonable costs or free. Someone should talk to the DISCOS or whoever is responsible for provision of electricity in Nigeria. This is not the time to cut off supply as it can easily create tension and lead to anarchy. This is not the time to ask people to stay indoors and sweat to death along with hunger. It will also defeat the purpose of the lockdown.
What about money and food?
We have some suggestions for different states and local governments including the FCT. Identify at risk population in the IDP camps and slums or poor areas for support. We can ask our churches and mosques to assist in the distribution of food to the people in their local areas. Simply deliver the food packaged to the churches and mosques for onward distribution in each area. The religious places are often widespread and easily accessible to the local population.
Money is a bit more difficult but as suggested in some posts, the government can assist with cash disbursements as necessary through local means or via banks. It is possible to work out logistics suitable and applicable to Nigeria.
In Lagos, money is being distributed along with food materials. This has its own issues but remains a step in the right direction. The optics and logistics has not been well thought out but things should be straightened out in time.
In America, the government will be sending out cheques to Americans to help them survive this critical period. Other welfare packages are being designed in different other environments.
One more issue
Perhaps the most important issue is the preparedness of the medical and healthcare work force. Are we ready? Are you ready? Are the hospitals prepared for the number of possible cases of sick individuals that may troop to the hospitals looking for help?
Are the doctors and nurses, laboratory scientists and pharmacists ready? Do we have enough people on board, trained and ready to help? We will not have enough doctors and nurses if there is a deluge of patients. Remember we have a chronic shortage of critical healthcare personnel at the best of times.
How do we protect the doctors and nurses? Do we have enough personal protection equipment, gloves and masks for frontline staff? Do we have enough hospital beds and equipment including drugs, fluids and even medical oxygen? At least, let us try to save those we can save. Some will die, obviously.
We will not have enough mortuaries and mortuary attendants if what is happening in Spain, Italy and the USA is anything to envisage. We will need the army to provide support and assistance as may be necessary.
What are we going to do with the dead who are still able to pass on the infection if not handled properly? Do we have crematoriums? Are they working? In Italy, they can only cremate 24 bodies a day apparently even though more than 500 people die each day!
God help us!
NB : We will need the creative spirits, entrepreneurs manufacturers and industrialists in ABA and Onitsha to help us.
What can you make?