…as data do not support restrictions – Investigations
By Sunday Odibashi
The circumstances that generated the trepidation and tension over the outbreak of coronavirus which led the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 to advice President Muhammadu Buhari to impose coronavirus lockdown may turn out to be sheer fluke. Investigation has shown that data from the microsite of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) do not justify or validate the extremist policy to lockdown the socio-economic system of Nigeria.
Accordingly, the prolonged lockdown is unnecessary, National Daily investigations find. Moreso, Policy makers in Nigeria may have fallen prey to the stereotype coronavirus intervention and shock policies of the West. Even in doing this, the Nigerian government selected only lockdown policies that would hold down Nigerian citizens, increase their hardship; and neglecting welfare interventions for majority of the Nigerian citizens.
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The NCDC microsite appear to provide misleading information on the authentic status of coronavirus in Nigeria as the site portrayed that no person is asymptomatic to the virus in Nigeria. Thus, Nigeria is being recognized as the only country in the world that has zero asymptomatic coronavirus case.
NCDC description indicated that every COVID-19 case in Nigeria is either discharged or hospitalized.
The NCDC statistics in Lagos indicated that there are 8,590 COVID-19 patients hospitalized. However, the capacity of all isolation centres in Lagos is not up to 5,000. While recording few deaths with reasonable turnout of discharged victims, it recorded no asymptomatic COVID-19 patient. But the global data indicates that asymptomatic cases are the majority, this is at variant with the case in Nigeria.
The NCDC statistics indicated that as at Monday, June 29th, 2020, 134,257 people have been tested in Nigeria; and 25,133 are positive. The record shows that 18% of 134,257 people tested, not 18% of the Nigerian population, were relied on for national policy on coronavirus in Nigeria. Accordingly, only about 0.0168% of the Nigeria population confirmed COVID-19 infection in the country but the government-imposed lockdown of the socio-economic system.
Moreover, of the 134,257 people tested, 573 people have died, indicating 0.43% of total number of people that have died or coronavirus related ailment as at Monday, June 29, 2020 in a country with an estimated population of 200 million.
Ironically, the intervention agencies continued to release constantly increasing figures of coronavirus infection during the period of lockdown, which perhaps, showed that the measures were either ineffective or inappropriate to contain the spread of coronavirus in the country.
While markets, malls were open, the death rate has not spiked. A stakeholder had argued that “The real fact is that from NCDC figures, more people die in Nigeria from vehicular accidents than COVID-19.” Others also noted that malaria have killed more people in the Nigeria than coronavirus.
Many stakeholders in the country have expressed perturbation why markets should open, other public places reopened but churches in Lagos and Ogun states remain shut even after the PTF had ordered the reopening of worship centers, though, to be ratified by state governments. Generally, churches have high organizational pattern during activities; unlike, the rowdy markets where no one regulates any movement or interactions. Agitating minds have questioned: “what does Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State and Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State have against the church;” adding: “they, both have an agenda against the church because data does not back the lockdown restrictions.”
The protesting stakeholders in a chat with National Daily further questioned: “Where are these two governors getting their advice from? What do they have in common? Why are they in lockstep with each other in the church lockdown?”
NCDC statistics further showed that Lagos State has 8,590 COVID-19 patients on admission as at Tuesday, June 30, 2020; but Lagos COVID-19 isolation centres have capacity of about 1,000 bed spaces. As at May 13th, 2020, Lagos had 547 bed spaces, before Governor Sanwo-Olu set up another 500 capacity centre in the state.
The question then, “where are the bed spaces containing the other 7,590 patients on admission?” However, it will be recalled that the Commissioner for Health had suggested that Lagos State government may soon commence treating patients in their homes because of the lack of bed spaces at the isolation centres.
However, a medical expert had declared that other are asymptomatic cases in Nigeria. He highlighted that they test positive but the people will not develop the symptoms, neither will they transmit it (according to WHO) to anyone ever. Unfortunately, he said, “Lagos State and Governor Sanwo-olu won’t tell you this because churches must be closed down.” The stakeholder protested: “This is really an anti-church-virus.”
It was pointed out that out of the 10,310 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Lagos, about 9,000 people are either asymptomatic or cured, demoting that 87% of infected persons did not die. This was said to be a conservative figure.
Again, of the 10,310 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Lagos, 127 have died, representing 1.2% of Lagos estimated population of 15 million people. The figure was argued not to qualify in declaring the infection a pandemic.
Experts remarked that 127 people of the 15 million people have died in a pandemic, representing 0.00085% of the 15 million population died from the ‘rapidly spreading extremely contagious and virulent’ COVID-19 in Lagos State alone since March 2020. The status of the pandemic was, again questioned.
Experts noted that Ogun State is even more ridiculous. In Ogun 807 people have been confirmed testing positive to COVID-19; while 570 of the 870 have been discharged, indicating that 71% of the infections have been cured. Yet, the infection was declared extremely virulent and fatal virus. Of the 807 confirmed COVID-19 infections, a total of 18 have unfortunately died, indicating 2.2% casualties.
Ogun State population in the 2006 census was 3.75 million; that is 14 years ago. Experts observed that using this figure, 18 out 3.75 million is 0.00048%; thus, this is percentage of people that have died in Ogun State alone since March 2020 from the rapidly spreading extremely contagious and virulent COVID-19. The use of pandemic was therefore declared misplaced and inappropriate.
This increased the suspicion and agitation of: “why are Sanwo-Olu and Abiodun doing Pinocchio with analysis and interpretation of the COVID-19 data and statistics? “Where are the Lagos and Ogun governors receiving their instructions and orders from?”
The authorities may argue that interventions or restriction orders had contained the spread of coronavirus in the country. Experts argued that such argument is not sustainable. They pointed out that countries that enforced lockdown followed up with actions, finding solutions to solve the problem and protect the citizens. “Research was funded, consultations on global trends and others. What actions have Nigerians governments been taking to find solutions to the problem other than blaming citizens for disobeying lockdown orders or directing citizens to take responsibilities?” the stakeholders protested.
They declared that the continuous enforcement of lockdown is no longer necessary, saying that it has outlived its usefulness. The experts, therefore, suggested that the PTF be dissolved while the Health Minister, the NCDC DG, liaise with the state governors on further intervention activities where necessary.