Second National Lockdown Anticipated in Nigeria as Covid-19 Deaths Hit Record Highs, Three Varsity Dons Die in Quick Succession

When a nation of over 200 million people can boast of only one million tests of novel Coronavirus in the last 10 months, it shows that danger lies ahead for the people. This is what is going on in Nigeria, the most populous black nation in the world, as the second wave of Covid-19 is gradually inching deep into society.


Oyewusi Ibidapo-Obe, former Vice-Chancellor, University of Lagos (C) Vanguard News


Timescape Magazine gathered that between January 1 to 7, 2021, Nigeria has been recording a daily increase in cases of the pandemic with no fewer than 8,354 cases reported.


As of January 7, the country has witnessed 1,330 deaths. The last two weeks recorded the deaths of three professors in quick succession. Habu Galadima, Director-General, National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Femi Odekunle, renowned Criminologist and Member of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) and Oyewusi Ibidapo-Obe, former Vice-Chancellor, University of Lagos.


Femi Odekunle, renowned Criminologist and Member of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) (C) Modern Ghana


This has caused a lot of concerns with the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Covid-19 raising an alarm on Thursday January 7 in Abuja that things might get out of control.


“We are experiencing an all-time high of cases in Nigeria and we must all take full responsibility through compliance and vigilance. It is better to wear a face mask than being on a ventilator,” said the Chairman of the Task Force, Boss Mustapha, who added that the Presidential Task Force was overly concerned about the increasing daily numbers being recording. 


“Records show that our test per million (TPM) is at 4,695 while our test positivity rate (TPR) is at 9.6% and our Case Fatality Rate has increased to 3% having recorded 1,324 deaths, these data are not encouraging. Nigeria just crossed the 1 million mark for testing across the federation. Testing remains a key strategy of our National Response,” he said.


Timescape Magazine has been hinted that the Presidential Task Force is handicapped in its effort of curbing the spread of the deadly virus because the states within the federation were not cooperating. Some members of the Task Force who opted to talk on condition of anonymity, told Timescape Magazine that the citizens were not also helping the situation.


The Presidential Task Force Chairman, who is also Secretary to the Government of the Federation said: “The PTF urges the Sub-Nationals to revamp testing and contact tracing in the bid to curb the menace of this dreaded virus. It is only through testing that we can know our status and treat early if infected. This will provide among other things, evidence for effective feedback, course correction, experience learning and sharing, as well as optimize documentation systems for future reference.

“It has become embarrassing to note that some Nigerians continue to present fake results when travelling outside the shores of this country. This remains a major source of concern to the Federal Government. The PTF has directed private laboratories to immediately put in place measures to validate results and ensure that all passengers are registered on the travel portal before samples are processed to stop this activity”.


To the Head of Disease Surveillance and Epidemiology Department, National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Mrs. Elsie Ilori, “Testing is the only way to truly understand the burden of Covid-19, particularly now that we’re recording more cases than ever. We have worked tirelessly to increase capacity and access to testing across the country”.


“The increase in transmission and test positivity rate of Covid-19 in Nigeria remains a cause for concern. Majority of our cases are aged 21-50, this poses a risk to the elderly and vulnerable populations. Stricter adherence to safety measures by the public is critical," Mrs. Ilori warned.


The situation in Lagos State, which is seen as the epicentre of the virus has been a source of concern to the State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu. However, the rate at which testing is being conducted is relatively low when considering the population of Lagos, one of the emerging megacities of the world. The metro area population of Lagos state in 2020 was estimated to be 14, 368,000.


The Governor said the second wave seems to be slightly more infectious than the first one, considering the number of people who have tested positive to Covid-19 and the fatality rate around the country, especially in Lagos. He, therefore, urged the citizens to take responsibility and to know and appreciate that Covid-19 is real, and to observe all the protocols that have been set out to check the spread.


“We have seen, unfortunately, the fatality rate around the country, even in Lagos. One of the things we have realized is that a lot more people require oxygen attention, they need additional breathing aid. So, we have started building what we call oxygen tents, oxygen facilities; we are building about 10 of such facilities.


“We have commissioned about four of them and we are also building additional two oxygen plants in the state so that we can meet the respiratory requirements. We understand the virus more than how we did eight to 10 months ago, so we know what treatment should be. We are better positioned for that.


“We are also doing a lot more testing in Lagos than we were doing five to six months ago: we are doing almost 2,500 to 3,000 tests every day, so we are watching the rate of positivity that we have, which is also high. It has moved from the usual 10 to 12 per cent and we are now seeing a positivity rate of about 25 and sometimes 30 per cent. That is actually very disturbing,” the Governor said.


Dr. Ibukunoluwa Charles, who owns a hospital in Ikeja, told Timescape Magazine that everybody must be disturbed with the high rate of Covid-19 cases being recorded in Nigeria especially since December 2020.


“It seems people have forgotten that this virus is still with us. There have been breaches of the health protocols when you go out these days. I find it difficult to believe that some people who were tested gave fake addresses and wrong telephone numbers to our health workers, all in a bid to evade being quarantined. This is quite unfortunate and sad. It is the responsibility of every Nigerian if we must curtain the spread of this disease,” Dr. Ibukunoluwa said.


Another medical practitioner, Dr. Kunle Niji told Timescape Magazine that the low testing was a bad omen for the country, as this may not really give the true picture of the level of spread of the virus among Nigerians.


“It is through testing that we can know how this virus has spread, unfortunately for us, we are doing very badly in this regard. It is hard to explain that we could only manage to do one million tests since the outbreak of Covid-19. This is too small for a country of over 200 million people…There is no doubt that there are lots of silent carriers of this disease in the country. I hope this won't get out of hands,” he warned.


Habu Galadima, Director-General, National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (C) Ripples Nigeria


The pressure is now on the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 to overcome some of the challenges raised by intensifying the risk communication and community engagement to create awareness, as the share level of doubts about the virus in Nigeria, remains alarming.