Nigeria has few testing kits, but many asymptomatic government officials and music stars are being tested, raising questions about the fairness of the process.
Although Nigeria recorded the first coronavirus case on February 27, the figure shot up to 131 on Monday night amidst complaints that the country was not testing many people with suspected cases of the virus.
Prominent Nigerians, who have been diagnosed with the disease include the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari; the Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed; his Kaduna State counterpart, Nasir El-Rufai and Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State
When president Mohammad Buhari’s took over office in 2015 he promised to put an end to medical tourism, but himself and other government officials still go abroad for treatment. However, this is unlikely to happen if any official gets Covid-19 as the favorite medical tourism hub is inundated with critical emergency cases of coronavirus infections
“Even if you are wealthy, you will have to use the same health facilities with others, whether good or bad – nobody is going to accept a patient from abroad to treat,” says Dr Adebanjo.
Lagos and some other states introduced restrictions on large gatherings, but many people – including some pastors – Imams are ignoring calls to adhere to social distancing recently Katsina state Muslim jihadist burned down a police station for arresting their imam who ignored such restrictions as social distancing or ban on large gathering.
Meanwhile, since government ban nightclubs, beer parlors are now witnessing crowded sights and scenes, still throwing social distancing warning to the winds. In the past bus stop hawkers competed for every inch of available space to sell their wares, ignoring any thought of social distancing. Most were not concerned about the virus whom they say its for the rich high and mighty.
A woman selling smoked fish on a tray said in Pidgin, “All death is death,”.
“If I stay home, I will die of hunger, if I come out to hustle you say I will die of coronavirus.
“There is nothing we have not seen and we are still here, we shall survive this one,” she said, smacking her lips.
There are also fears that if things get worse in the urban areas, people would ignore the ban on travel and start moving to rural areas – where they are guaranteed food from family farms but where there is a higher population of vulnerable older people and more limited health services.
“That would be bedlam, total madness, if people begin to move to their villages,” said town planner Aboyami Bamidele.
“Whatever happens, people should remain where they are. We will survive this,” he said.
The Federal Government on Tuesday said by next week, Nigeria would be testing 1,500 people for COVID-19 every day.
The Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Chikwe Ihekweazu, who disclosed this at a press conference in Abuja, said the country, as of last week, was conducting 500 tests per day.
Ihekweazu said this as some states, including Oyo and Edo, on Tuesday complained that they were facing a shortage of testing kits for the virus. While the Bauchi State Government appealed to the Federal Government to set up a COVID-19 testing facility in the state.
At the press conference, said the NCDC would only test specific persons whose case definition fitted into that of the centre. He stated, “As of last week, we were testing about 500 per day, or we had the capacity to test 500 per day. By the end of this week, we will be at 1,000 per day, and next week we plan to take it to 1, 500 per day, just by increasing the number of labs.
“We are managing and improving the supply sides, but at the same time, we need to reduce the demand side to those that really need it. So, in Lagos, there is a big problem with a lot of anxiety and everybody wants to get tested. We need you to help us give this message to people. We have a case definition for COVID-19; either you have respiratory symptoms plus travel; plus, contact with a confirmed case or respiratory symptoms of unknown explanation.
However President, Muhammadu Buhari had on Sunday at national broadcast said efforts are on to increase contact tracing and treating Nigerians, who might have contracted the virus, ordered lockdown of the Federal Capital Territory, Lagos and Ogun states.