Last week, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, announced that domestic aviation services would resume in the nation’s two main airports, the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, on Wednesday July 8.
On July 11, Sam Mbakwe International Airport, Owerri, Sultan Abubakar Airport, Sokoto, as well as Malam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano, would join the list of airports certified for reopening.
Earlier, Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chairman, Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, had announced that that federal government had lifted ban on interstate lockdown provided that movement does not fall within the curfew hours of 10pm to 4am. In the same vein, the government reeled off modalities for reopening of schools and other public places.
While many experts, including those in the medical line, have opined that life could not be under lockdown forever, and that one way or the other, humanity has to find a way to live with COVID-19, there are genuine fears that a second wave of the virus might just be some little trigger away. And this does not apply to Nigeria alone.
In China, where the virus originated, there was a near second wave of the spread of the virus from the city, where it was first detected in November last year, Wuhan. Towards the end of May, there was a little surge in new cases in the city and the Chinese quickly announced a total lockdown to curb a second spread of the virus. In fact, the government had to carry out millions of tests within 48 hours.
In India, the government of Prime Minister Nerandra Modi announced a partial lifting of lockdown in Mumbai and Bombay even when there was a rise in daily cases of the virus with real and genuine fears that a second wave of the virus might be coming upon the nuclear power Asian nation.
From the United States of America to Brazil, from Russia to Mexico and from United Kingdom to South Korea, the fear is that the world might experience a second wave of the deadly virus before it is permanently tamed and dealt with.
Back home, the spike in cases and the number of casualties, especially in the month of June, got so many people worried. The National Centre for Diseases Control (NCDC), said last week Wednesday that the nation recorded 60% of its total COVID-19 cases in the month of June alone.
The body also added that the nation recorded the highest number of deaths from the virus in the same month of June. These deaths included those of former governor of Oyo State, Senator Isiaka Ajimobi, senator representing Lagos East Senatorial District, Senator Adebayo Osinowo, and renowned broadcaster, Dan Foster.
It must be noted that on April 27, President Buhari approved a phased and gradual easing of the lockdown with effect from May 4.
The percentage increase from the beginning of the easing of the lockdown (May 4 to date reveals that the country has recorded nearly 817 per cent increase till date.
The figure as of May 4 was 2,802, while the figure as of June 30 was 25,694.
Now, the Director-General of the NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, had said infected young people within age 20 and 40 bracket are responsible for the rapid spread of Coronavirus in the country.
He said this last Thursday. He also added that the elderly are the most vulnerable and urged the youth to take responsibility by ensuring they did not get too close to the elderly.
“It is increasingly obvious that transmission among young people – between the age of 20 and 40 years – as far as we know, are really driving the spread of this virus. But those that are bearing the brunt of it are people aged 50 years and above. Three out of five people will die from COVID-19 at 50 and above. So, we have to work harder collectively to protect our elders,” Ihekweazu stated.
The question on the lips of many concerned Nigerians is whether the second wave of the virus has already caught up with the country. And if that is the case, it should get many people worried. Just last week, the Delta State governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, and his wife tested positive to the virus.
In the same vein, the Ondo State governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, and some members of his household also tested positive. In fact, the state commissioner for health, Dr. Wahab Adegbenro, died last week due to complications arising from COVID-19.
Yet, all these people did not contract the virus in the early days. The concern is why are they contracting the virus now that lockdown is being eased or practically eased. And that is what has given rise to the fears that the second wave of the virus might be here already.
But Mustapha, the SGF, had warned that government would not hesitate to re-introduce the lockdown if there is another serious spike in the number of cases. He, however, admitted that cases were expected to rise.
“One significant observation the PTF wishes to make is that new rise in cases are to be expected as nations start to ease restrictions. We shall, however, proceed with caution and we shall not hesitate to change course when the need arises,” Mustapha stated.
Speaking further, the scribe of the federal government said, “What this means is that Nigerians should never mistake the relaxation by government as a signal that the COVID-19 battle had been concluded.”
On schools’ reopening, the SGF said the federal government had not opened schools, adding that the Federal Ministry of Education would have to consult more to be able to decide when it would be safe for pupils to resume.
“Only critical examination classes will be allowed to resume for those who need revision before examinations. As we have informed you, the Federal Ministry of Education will consult further with stakeholders before issuing guidelines that will lead to full resumption,” he explained.
From all indications, what the government has told Nigerians with a further easing of the lockdown amid fears of a second wave of the virus is that they (citizens) have to be responsible for their own safety.
Even with the opening of the nation’s airspace for commercial flights, it will be preposterous for anyone, government or citizens, to lower their guards.
From all indications, it is not yet uhuru against this dreaded virus.