It has been clear for some weeks that Nigeria is experiencing the second wave of the COVID-19 outbreak. There has been a rapid and steady rise in the number of positive cases reported daily as well as a rise in the positivity rate. The positivity rate rose from an average of about 8% in November and presently stands at an average of 28%.
The disease is affecting both the young and the elderly and some affected people may experience long-term sequelae of the disease. People are dying from this disease and it is imperative that we accept the seriousness of this situation and play our individual part in combatting this scourge. Our public response has been less than ideal.
Mask-wearing is sub-optimal and when done, it is not properly worn. Mass gatherings are still commonplace and in open spaces, rules of social distancing are not obeyed. We have grown complacent and are downplaying our personal risk and the risk to our loved ones.
What must we do.
- We must wear our face-masks compulsorily when interacting with others and we need to ensure it is properly worn to cover both our noses and mouths.
- We need to avoid touching our faces and ensure we wash our hands before touching our faces.
- Hand-washing needs to become a culture we adopt and we should do so at every opportunity.
- We must become each other’s keepers and insist that those around us follow all these rules.
- We need to reduce face-to-face meetings to the barest minimum and use virtual platforms
- Please discuss all these issues within your families and put measures in place to protect those who are most at risk such as the elderly. Where possible, wear masks around elderly members of your family.
- Hand-washing should also become a culture at home and we should practise good hygiene by regularly cleaning our environment.
- Avoid self-medication. See a health practitioner if you experience ill-health. Do not keep treating malaria multiple times, it might be COVID and you should get tested
- Teach children to wear masks and to practice hand hygiene. Children are more likely to be asymptomatic or have the mild disease but they could still transmit it if positive.
- Health workers need to have a high index of suspicion for COVID-19.
- If a client is treated multiple times for a febrile illness or “malaria”, it may be time to request a COVID-19 test.
- Health facilities also need to take universal precautions seriously and ensure that there are infection, prevention and control vanguards to ensure staff are adhering to precautionary measure.
- As a health worker, if you become symptomatic, please get tested at an accredited laboratory.