Coping with heat wave and coronavirus disease

When some parts of the country witnessed the first rain of the year, many had hailed and heaved sighs of relief from severe heat and dusty hot wind with hope that the weather would subsequently become cooler with more rainfalls as the year rolls by. The reverse has been the case even with records of rains from parts of the country coupled with dusty harmattan which expectedly should make the weather cool; the weather has remained severely hot. The scorching sun makes the air blow hot during the day and even at night, still no respite, as the expected cold air tends to cease. What is then obtained is profuse sweating and uneasiness characterized by quick tiredness and fatigue.

Geographically, Nigeria’s location in the tropics gives rise to its tropical hot climate. According to the Nigerian Meteorological Agency, the harsh weather condition being experienced by Nigeria is due to the changes of weather pattern of the world. The hot weather in Nigeria is attributed to the fact that the country is responding to climatic weather changes across the world.

The body and blood are largely made up of water and for these two to function properly, a lot of fluid is needed. What the body demands and deserves on a regular basis at this season of hot weather is proper hydration. Take a lot of water – it is not only an antidote to thirst as a result of heat, it provides many health benefits to the body as well. Water assists the body in maintaining balance of body fluids. Water generally aids digestion, transportation of food nutrients, circulation, absorption, creation of saliva and maintenance of constant body temperature. To avoid rashes, skin diseases and other illnesses associated with heat, shower as many times as possible when the opportunity arises on daily basis. Ensure that your body is always hydrated through adequate water intake to replenish lost fluid from regular sweat because of heat from this season. Body organs like the kidney also require plenty of water to function more efficiently.

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Here in Nigeria, if the need for the frequent use of water had not been in high demand before now despite the hot weather, then what will make the demand go higher has eventually visited the country. What does this mean? I shall explain.

On February 27, 2020, the first case of Coronavirus disease, a.k.a Covid-19, was confirmed in Nigeria. That confirmation announced the arrival of the dreaded and deadly disease we all had been psychologically preparing for. In the wake of this Covid-19 discovery in Nigeria, everyone is on high alert and it is important one gets updated on helpful health tips to curtail the spread of the disease. And in an address to his compatriots, Nigeria’s minister of health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, proffers some preventive health tips and precautionary measures against Covid-19. Dr Ehanire advised regular and thorough washing of hands with soap and water, and alcohol-based hand sanitizer. In his words, “Maintain at least one-and-half-metre distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing. Persons with persistent cough or sneezing should stay home or keep a social distance but not mix in crowd. Make sure you and people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene…Stay home if you feel unwell with symptoms like fever, cough and difficulty in breathing…Do not engage in self-medication.”

Nigeria’s health minister also warned his fellow citizens against the abuse of social media in the spread of misinformation that causes fear and panic. Already, a lot of conspiracy theories, misinformation and fake news on Covid-19 have been making the rounds. Some say Chloroquine tablets, garlic, ginger, salt and high ultraviolet rays can kill Coronavirus. Untrue! Nigerians are urged to stay informed and updated on Covid-19 through official channels on TV and radio, including Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, ministries of health at federal and state levels.

Some have argued that in crowded areas of Lagos, there can be no escaping of body contacts when in public buses or places and this may likely increase the chance of spreading the disease. Kissing on both cheeks as a sign of greetings and exchange of pleasantries, close hugging and handshaking should be suspended for now, say some public health specialists. However, contracting the disease and spreading it could be prevented at home and in public places when high level of personal and respiratory hygiene is maintained.

As advised by medical experts, when hands are not visibly dirty, the regular use of hand sanitizers is important because of the frequency of contacts with likely contaminated surfaces or objects. Apart from regularly cleaning hands with alcohol-based hand sanitizers, there is usually a high tendency of unconsciously touching the eyes, nose or mouth with our fingers which can easily get the virus into the body, if already on the hands. So, avoid touching those openings (eyes, nose and mouth) on your face with unclean fingers to prevent the deadly virus from entering your body.

In some parts of the world, news reports have it that, some individuals contracted Coronavirus without showing any symptoms of infections of this deadly disease. There were other reports of mysterious cases where victims tested positive to coronavirus without any travel history to countries affected by the outbreak or known contact with infected individual.

While this Covid-19 is deadly because it has killed thousands of people and still killing, it is important to state that testing positive to it is not a death sentence but invitation to immediate medical attention. In China, where the disease originated, there are thousands of survivors of Covid-19 who are living testimonies. They survived and recovered fully. Early medical intervention and treatment proved effective for those who had initially tested positive to Covid-19 as they were later certified okay after beating the virus. There are enough indications already that Covid-19 is not invincible with early medical attention. Some health experts even say the human body is naturally capable of combating coronavirus but it is largely dependent on how strong the immune system of that body is.

A very important issue that calls for concern is the sudden and indiscriminate increase in prices of protective kits like face/nose masks and hand sanitizers since the confirmation of Covid-19 in Nigeria making it difficult for people to comfortably and conveniently protect and guard themselves. This should be addressed by appropriate and concerned authorities. Government should subsidize cost of production and make these protective kits readily available at public places.

Although there were fatalities, however, with regular public awareness and high level of hygiene, Nigeria defeated Ebola in 2014/2015, and together we shall conquer Covid-19 if we adopt same approach, even with the present heat. Government at all levels must be proactive and its citizens more vigilant as we follow directives from reliable and credible information sources and health institutions. All public health stakeholders and concerned authorities must continually sensitize the public on preventing the spread of Covid-19 disease. We must collectively raise the bars of our protective guards as we take measures to prevent the spread of this deadly contagious plague wreaking havoc world over.

In all, the role water plays in our life and health cannot be overemphasized given the solutions it brings to the table in combating the severe heat occasioned by the hot weather and the ravaging Covid-19 epidemic.

Ojewale writes in from Idimu, Lagos via kayodeojewale@gmail.com

 

NIGERIAN TRIBUNE

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