The consensus of experts is that Nigerians’ lackadaisical attitude to the use of facemasks, physical distancing and regular washing of hands is because the government had relaxed on enforcement and the low number of new COVID-19 cases.
Professor Phillips Olatunji, a consultant haematologist, stated that it was wrong for people to do away with facemasks, washing of hands and social distancing until Nigeria is certified free of COVID-19 and no more cases are daily recorded.
According to Professor Olatunji, “the government has relaxed; the figures of infected persons are going down and many people were forced to wear face masks, frequently wash hands and practice social distancing reluctantly. So, once all those conditions start going away, the tendency is for people to start crowding again.”
Professor Olatunji declared that this was a wrong interpretation because the infection can still be transmitted from one person to another even though the number of people with the virus is low.
According to him,“Due to the relaxation of the COVID-19 rules by the government, many assume that it means that the government itself is convinced that the thing is not as bad as it was before. So, that naturally will make people want to relax.
“But the truth is that anybody that is entering into a place where there is a large gathering, an enclosure or that is likely to be cold, should know that until Nigeria is certified free as a country just like polio, precautions are still essential. You don’t know those that may have the infection. Now, most isolation centres have already closed down, so the people who are been diagnosed with the COVID-19 are in our midst.”
Professor Olatunji declared that the COVID-19 preventive measures such as regular use of facemasks is important to prevent a second wave of the infection currently experienced in other developed countries of the world like the UK and USA.
Director of Research at the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Lagos, Professor Rosemary Audu stated those violating all COVID-19 guidelines will have himself to blame because the virus is new.
According to Professor Audu, although many people with the COVID-19 have its mild or symptomless form, no one can predict those that might end up with complications of the infections.
She added: “keeping the precautions while scientists are still trying to study the virus is in our own best interest. It is not convenient yes, but it is in our own best interest if we comply. One thing is you cannot predict how an individual will react to it. Some will be infected and they don’t seem to have any symptoms and they recover but in others, it might take a different dimension.”
Prof Bayo Onajole, a community medicine specialist and public health physician at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital said that compliance to COVID-19 protective guidelines is almost zero because Nigerians are not seeing people dying from the disease.
“If at political rallies and other social functions, our leaders jettisoned all the COVID-19 preventive guidelines, do you expect the market women or transporters to believe in it? That is one of the things that affected the compliance,” he declared
The COVID-19 Incident Manager in Ogun state, Dr Kayode Soyinka, stated Nigeria has only been lucky with COVID-19 despite the low level of compliance to the COVID-19 guidelines but urged Nigerians to conform since they also stand to be protected from other infectious diseases.
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