Nigeria: How Coronavirus Affects Pensioners

10 April 2020

Evidence are beginning to emerge across the world to support the notion that older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions seem to be at higher risk of serious complications from coronavirus (COVID-19) illness.

Data sourced from the United States Centre for Disease Control and Protection showed that eight out of 10 coronavirus-related deaths reported in the U.S. have been in adults of 65 years old and older.

Analysis of the data showed that among adults with confirmed COVID-19 reported in the U.S, about 70 per cent of adults of 85 years old and above in addition to about 59 per cent of adults 65 years to 84 years old required hospitalization.

Also revealed is the fact that about 29 per cent of adults 85 years old and older and about 31 per cent of adults 65 years to 84 years old required admission to intensive care unit.

In Nigeria, data from the Nigerian Centre for Decease Control (NCDC) show that most of the recorded fatalities are seniors with underlining medical conditions.

For instance, sketchy details of the three recoded deaths in Lagos from COVID-19 as at April 8, 2019, show they were a 66-year-old Briton, a 55-year-old Nigerian male with renal infection and kidney transplant history plus a 36-year-old Nigerian male.

NCDC's data show that of the two deaths recorded in Abuja from COVID-19 so far, one was a 67-year old Nigeria with underlying health conditions while the other one, whose aged was not disclosed, was said to have had serious underlining health conditions, according to the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehhanire.

The Centre for Disease Control and Protection is concerned about older people and people with underlying health conditions, who appear to be about twice as likely to develop serious outcomes versus otherwise younger, healthier people.

The Centre said senior citizens managing underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19.

"Older adults experience a gradual deterioration of their immune system, making it harder for their body to fight off diseases and infections. Many are also more likely to have underlying conditions that hinder the body's ability to cope and recover from illness. People with health conditions like heart disease, lung disease and diabetes need to be especially careful to avoid exposure to COVID-19," the Centre said.

It recommends that senior citizens should take action to reduce exposure to the virus.

On how senior citizens can mitigate coronavirus risk, the CDC recommends that, "If you're 65 and older and live where cases have been reported, take action to reduce your exposure. Know what's going on locally. Pay attention to recommendations from your local public health department. Also, make sure you have adequate supplies of routine medications, like medicine for blood pressure and diabetes, and household supplies in case you need to remain at home."

It is important to note that across the world, several senior citizens who came down with the virus reportedly made full recovery.

In Britain, for instance, a GREAT-grand mother of 99 years, Rita Reynolds, survived coronavirus.

Reynolds fell ill on March 25, tested positive for coronavirus and eventually defied the odds to make a full recovery.

In Nigeria, some older persons have made full recovery from the virus, including the Governors of Bauchi and Oyo States, Bala Mohammed and Seyi Makinde respectively.

While contacting the highly contagious coronavirus is not a death sentence for senior citizens, experts have advised older persons to take higher precautions to mitigate the higher risk the virus poses to them.

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