Deadly second wave of COVID-19 and youthful population

The much dreaded second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic which is said to be a deadlier and more virulent strain of the virus is now here with us and is already claim­ing major casualties. It will be recalled that the Federal Government had warned Nigerians about the second wave of the pandemic, especially as the number of new COVID-19 cases continued to increase in other parts of the country. Recent epidemiology re­cords confirm that Nigeria is now facing a rise in confirmed COVID-19 cases nationwide which is similar to the second wave of infections occurring in other countries across the world. In particular, Lagos, Ka­duna and FCT have emerged as the new epicenter during this period, with over 70 percent of all confirmed cases. As of the time of writing this report, Nigeria had record­ed a total of 5,125 new cases of COVID-19 and 30 deaths within the first five days of 2021, an in­dication that the second wave of the virus is on the rise. More worrisome is the fact that the 5,125 new cases are higher than the total infections recorded in the country in the first 75 days of the virus last year, according to statistics. Reliable data shows Nigeria recorded a total of 4,641 cases From February 27 to May 11, 2020 and the average daily death from the virus within the period was three as against the average of six daily recorded within the first five days of this year.

Amid all this, there has also been a sharp rise in the number of COVID-19 deaths recorded among VIPs in the country, with the likes of Ibadan, Oyo State-based bil­lionaire, Harry Akande, Gen­eral Officer Commanding 6 Division, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Major General Olu Irefin and Chairman of Leadership Newspaper, Sam Nda-Isiah– all alleged to died have died from COVID-19 complications. Other notable Nigerians who have also succumbed to the more virulent strain of the virus include the former University of Lagos State Vice Chancellor, Professor Ibadapo Obe, the younger brother of the Lagos State Deputy Governor, Dr Haroun Hamzat who died at just 37 years, after battling so hard to stay alive. Chief among the factors fuelling the resurgence in the coronavirus pandemic, accord­ing to health experts as well as the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 (PTF), is the activi­ties and assumptions that the virus does not pose a serious threat to our youthful popula­tion, leading to an increase in the infection rate among young people, who are subsequently infecting older and more vul­nerable family members.

Another major cause of this second wave of the pandemic is the lack of compliance with non-pharmaceutical interven­tions, particularly the disre­gard for facial covering in pub­lic places, large gatherings at events linked to the yuletide season, as well as recent civil demonstrations. Other lifestyle choices like disregard for public health pre­ventive measures such as hand washing hygiene and physical distance requirements are also among the major culprits. Social gatherings involv­ing large congregations from different parts of the country, and the world, at events such as weddings, religious activities, political rallies, conferences and end of year celebrations have also been blamed for the upsurge in the respiratory dis­ease. These events, classified globally as ‘supers-spreader events,’ make the risk of a single infection causing a large outbreak among attendees significantly higher. The opening of the economy with progressive relaxation of restric­tions in congregational areas such as places of worship, restaurants, bars, lounges, shopping and event centres is also not an exception. From the foregoing, it is appar­ent that Nigeria may be headed for another national lockdown, except something is done urgently to reduce the spread of the virus. It is against this backdrop that the youths are being encouraged to take personal responsibility to halt the spread of the virus and mitigate the negative consequences that an­other national lockdown could have on lives and livelihoods as was seen during the last time out. Some of the guidelines that have been established by the NCDC, the PTF and other health experts as ef­fective measures of containing the spread of the pandemic, include the wearing of face masks that cover the nose and mouth when in public settings, such as schools, weddings, burials, places of worship, market places, shopping malls, banking halls, event centres, motor parks etc

It is important also to always maintain physical distance of at least 2 metres (2 arm’s length) from others in public settings. Youths are also advised to wash their hands frequently with soap and water or use hand sanitizers when hands are not visibly dirty and run­ning water is not readily available. They are to also avoid direct con­tact with people such as hugging and handshaking in addition to avoiding close contact with anyone showing symptoms such as fever, cough or sudden loss of sense of taste or smell Other COVID-19 preventive mea­sures include covering the mouth and nose properly with a tissue paper, or your elbow when sneezing and/or coughing and disposal of the tissue properly immediately after use. For elderly persons and other persons with medical conditions such as Hy­pertension, Diabetes, Asthma etc, they should equally avoid visitations and other unnecessary travels. All these are very important mea­sures that the youth and other mem­bers of the community must adhere to as the country seeks to defeat this new and more virulent strain of the corona virus. Difficult as these health protocols may seem, they are necessary sacri­fices that the youth must make at this time to ensure that COVID-19 does not continue to ravage our land.

  • Akilu writes in from Abuja


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