More than eight months after the emergence of the novel Coronavirus in Nigeria, many people no longer observe the safety measures put in place by authorities to keep safe.
Since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 was announced on Feb. 27, 2020, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), along with the Federal Ministry of Health and other stakeholders, evolved measures to check the spread of the virus.
The centre, therefore, while following directives of the World Health Organisation (WHO), recommended the use of face mask, frequent washing of hands, social distancing, respiratory hygiene and stopped large gatherings as basic safety measures.
Even though Nigerians had observed the measures, especially during the lockdown that followed the announcement of the pandemic as global emergency and to check its spread, many are gradually dropping their guard.
A check by correspondents of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja saw many residents moving about without wearing a face mask, while some even doubt the existence of the pandemic in the first place and others just carry a face mask in their bags just in case.
Chief Ugochukwu Nnam, the President of Initiative for Leadership Development and Change (ILDC), an Abuja-based NGO, told NAN on Sunday that while many resident had stopped observing the COVID-19 protocols, others doubt the existence of the Coronavirus.
Nnam, who decried the unsafe attitude, added that “many people in the FCT don’t care; even in Churches and gatherings, they don’t wear face masks, while some wear the mask on their chins instead of the face.
“I wonder if they really know the dangers of this pandemic; I wonder if they know that countries like Germany have entered into another phase of lockdown.
“As for me and my family, we use our face masks, I gave hand sanitisers to all my children as they go to school, I ensure they wash hands regularly even in their school through a steady reminder to their teachers.”
Mrs Ogechi Osuoha, a teacher, called for intensive advocacy to change the perception of people about COVID-19, especially in markets.
Osuoha, who emphasised the imperatives of sensitisation and awareness to contain community spread, said that “the carelessness of some market women could trigger another phase of community infection.
“Many women in the market don’t use face masks and do not wash their hands or use hand sanitisers or wear hand gloves like they did at the heat of the pandemic before or after selling their wares.”
Mr Nurudeen Ahmed, a resident, attributed the attitude to ignorance and some sort of cultural beliefs.
Ahmed said that he had at a time doubted the existence of the pandemic until he saw those that died of the disease.
“Honestly, I used to live my life freely without protection until I heard of a person I know very well that died of symptoms and complications from the disease in Spain.”
Mr Nelson Udunna, a laboratory scientist, said that the pandemic was real and capable of wiping out communities.
Udunna said that he had cultivated the culture of washing his hands more than four times a day, as well as protecting his nose and mouth with face mask whenever he mingled with other people.
He decried the manner some persons threw caution to the wind by not observing the safety rules.
He said “I went to the Nyanya orange market in Abuja, I discovered that it was only me and two other persons that wore face masks. I was shocked.”
NAN observed high compliance on wearing of face masks at the Shoprite Supermarket, Apo Resettlement, while a small percentage not wearing or wearing it on the jaw.
Some of the residents, customers and passengers who spoke with NAN on condition of anonymity admitted that COVID-19 is real but that they are tired of wearing face mask.
A male security officer working at Shoprite said “I believe COVID-19 is real and I wear my face mask but it is just that I am tired of wearing it. I am not wearing now so that I can receive fresh air.”
A female customer, seen adjusting her face mask on her jaw, told NAN that “I try to wear my face mask but it is not easy to wear it always, it is choking, that is why I am wearing it like this to get fresh air.’’
However, at St. Charles Lwanga Parish Catholic Church, Apo Resettlement, on Sunday, there was high compliance of wearing face mask in the Church, although some parishioners did not wear it.
A female parishioner, who had her face mask on, told NAN that she tried to comply with the COVID-19 protocol by wearing mask always, especially in public places.
“I am committed to wearing face mask to Church; it is part of my Christian obligations to obey the authority- the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and it is for my own good to keep safe.’’
NAN also observed that an announcement was made at the Church, encouraging parishioners to wear face mask in Church.
Meanwhile, there was non-compliance of wearing face mask by “Keke Napep” drivers and motor bike riders at Kabusa junction close to Apo Mechanic village.
According to a rider, he wears his face mask because of dust not COVID-19, saying “ I don’t believe there is COVID-19 in Nigeria.’’
Similarly, a Pet trader at Zone C, Apo Resettlement Estate, said “there is no COVID-19 again in Nigeria. There is no need for me to wear face mask.”
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) had stated that “till date, 65,148 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed, 61,073 patients discharged and 1,163 deaths recorded in 36 states of the federation and the FCT.”
It also disclosed that there were 2,912 active cases across the country.
The agency, therefore, advised Nigerians to continue to observe the COVID-19 protocols to stay safe, stressing that the Coronavirus pandemic was not over yet.
“Wear a face mask properly; avoid large gatherings, maintain physical distance from others.
“Let’s work together to protect ourselves and our country,” the centre stressed. (NAN)
Nov 16 2020 @ 9:03 GMT