COVID-19: Death may rise beyond 10,000 people if… —Experts
EXPERTS have said Nigerians should expect more coronavirus infections with attendant death may rise to hit the threshold of 10,000, even as the pandemic continues to ravage the country and other parts of the world.
Professor Oyewale Tomori, a virologist and chairman, Expert Committee on COVID-19, among other experts who spoke to Tribune Online stated that the increase in the number of deaths will be gradual, but should be expected if people continue to a fault and violate the guidelines on wearing of face masks, keeping social distance and regular hand washing, among others, as complete lockdown is being lifted at different degrees.
According to Professor Tomori, “It could get worse; if the number of cases increases and our management does not improve, then our hospitals will become overwhelmed with cases. “Ideally, if everyone that is positive and shows symptoms ends up in the hospital, I don’t think that we will have enough bed space. We wouldn’t really be able to know the number of people that died since we don’t even know the number of people that are actually sick; what we get maybe a tip of the iceberg but certainly, if we continue this way, the number could be as much as 10,000.”
Professor Tomori said the casualties could only be controlled if the guidelines of COVID-19 prevention are enforced and Nigerians are made to understand the most important person in the COVID-19 crisis is each individual and not the government or PTF.
He added that “we know how it is transmitted and so we should know how to prevent getting it. They keep repeating these guidelines every day, but people think that they are smart and refuse to do them.” “From day one, the message has never gone round, that with the COVID-19 control, the most important person is not (Mustapha) Boss, not PTF. The most important person in the control is you and I. It is not the life of the government; the government will not die from COVID-19. That most important person in the COVID-19 control is me.”
Prof Christian Happi, Director, African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID) at the Redeemer’s University in Ede, Osun State, said scientifically it has been demonstrated that if people follow the guidelines, then mortality would below.
He declared that people have not been taking the precautionary measures such as wearing of face masks which should be made a rule and enforced everywhere, whether in a commercial vehicle or in the public. He added: “If the outbreak of the pandemic does not stop, the rate will not stop, it depends on how fast it stops; if it does not stop in the next three months, then the cases are bound to increase. Of course, the vaccine takes a long time and it takes a long time for development.”
Professor Kayode Osungbade, chairman of the University College Hospital (UCH) Committee Response on COVID-19 pandemic declared that “it is very likely that we exceed the number because the perception of the Nigerian population with respect to their risk is still very low.”
Professor Osungbade stated further that all over the place, people are not wearing the face masks or keeping social distance even as many Nigerians are yet to come to terms that COVID-19 is real even among educated people.
“For those of us who are frontline health workers, we see them on a daily basis and see how devastating it can be in some people, to the extent that it can cause deaths. “So, I usually feel sorry when we go to the market and see so many without masks among the thousands of people. Of course, every the day there are new infections as being reported by CDC, In-as-much as new infections are still being reported on a daily basis, and so there is no doubt some cases may be about 10 per cent of people, will manifest the severe form and some of them will actually lose their lives.”
Prof Dapo Olly, a clinical a psychologist at the Faculty of Psychology, University of Ibadan stated that people’s poor perception of the risk of COVID-19 is linked to Nigerians’ resilience and ability to cope with the consequences of stress.
According to him, many Nigerians are living below the poverty line and given to despair; they always throw caution to the wind by engaging in risky behaviours that are inimical to their health. “So the little they can get to satisfy their physiological needs and you are now telling hem about a disease that will kill them when they are already at that level of death.
Such will not consider such policies, especially when the disease is not as dreaded as you portray it; that is they have not seen anybody that has died from the disease. So as far as they are concerned, it is not as threatening as you want them to believe,” he added.
Professor Rosemary Audu, Director of Research at the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) noted that the fact that more people will die is certain, adding that the guidelines are meant to slow down the rate of transmission so that if those at a higher risk because of underlying health conditions get infected, at least the health facilities will still be available to manage them.
“If all of them get infected all around the same time and we don’t have facilities for them to be admitted to be managed, they will die. It is not as if it does not kill, it is just that we are trying to slow down the rate of transmission so that the few that get infected will be properly managed.
“You saw what happened in Italy, how people were just dying massively; they just did not take it seriously and even the health facilities could not manage it. “In such developed countries, they will just select the few that they can take care of and leave the others and they will die. So if Nigerians are not listening and they say everything should reopen – the schools, the churches – the whole population will die,” she warned.