Nigeria: Covid-19 Bites Harder As More Nigerians Die

7 January 2021

Lagos — Nigeria has recorded a total of 5,125 new cases of COVID-19 and 30 deaths within the first five days of 2021, an indication that the second wave of the virus is on the rise.

More worrisome is the fact that the 5,125 new cases are higher than the total infections recorded in the country in the first 75 days of the virus.

From February 27 to May 11, 2020, Nigeria recorded a total of 4,641 cases. The average daily death from the virus within the period was three as against the average of six daily recorded within the first five days of this year.

Lagos, the epicentre of the virus in Nigeria, has continued to record more cases and deaths as the state governor and medical experts cautioned residents to adhere to safety protocols to stop further spread and possible imposition of another lockdown.

The University of Lagos (UNILAG), on Wednesday, lost another prominent professor, Duro Ajeyalemi, to the dreaded COVID-19 virus.

It was gathered that Professor Ajeyalemi died at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) isolation centre.

The late Professor of Education retired at the age of 70 from the university last November.

He was a former dean of the university's Faculty of Education and also the pioneer Registrar of the Joint Universities Preliminary Examination Board (JUPEB).

Deputy Vice-Chancellor in charge of Development Services at UNILAG, Professor Folasade Ogunsola, confirmed Ajeyalemi's death to our reporter on the phone; saying the news came as a shock to the university.

On whether he died from COVID-19, she said, "I understand that the great scholar died of COVID-19 but I do not have a confirmation of that."

The University had on Sunday lost its former Vice-Chancellor, Professor Oyewusi Ibidapo-Obe, who died at the age of 72.

Sources close to the deceased confirmed that he died from COVID-19 complications.

It was gathered that the two professors attended same wedding party at Ikoyi, where Professor Obe was the chairman of the occasion.

"Apparently, the two contracted the virus at the party. I learnt there are two other professors at the party that are currently in ICU," our source claimed.

Deputy governor's brother

The Lagos State Deputy Governor, Obafemi Hamzat, on Wednesday mourned the death of his younger brother, Dr Haroun Hamzat, who passed on at the age of 37.

The medical expert lost the battle to coronavirus complications despite fighting frantically to survive the deadly respiratory disease, it was learnt.

Before his death, Haroun was a medical officer at one of the Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) in Orile-Agege Local Council Development Area (LCDA).

The deputy governor, who said that Haroun's death was painful and devastating for his family, warned that the killer disease "is no respecter of person, name or status."

Hamzat, who also lost his father in 2019, noted that since no one could escape the brutal strike of death, the entire family had submitted to the will of the Almighty Who, he said, gave and took.

"There is an urgent need for us as a people to be conscious of the volatility of COVID-19," he said.

'Ravaging our land'

The Chief Medical Director (CMD) of LUTH, Prof. Chris Bode, on Wednesday said the second wave of COVID-19 was in "Our land and claiming many lives."

Bode, who made the assertion at a news conference in Lagos, said: "The resurgence of COVID-19, through the newly mutated form, is ravaging our land, claiming many lives.

"Unlike what we witnessed in the first wave, this one is even more easily transmitted and deadlier too.

"It is, therefore, imperative for everyone, first and foremost, [to] accept that the COVID-19 pandemic is not over, and we must prepare to confront it all over again.

"What we see on the streets, in worship centres and social interactions, at parties and daily activities call for concern.

"In a period when the 'enemy' has doubled back and is attacking us ferociously, we seem to be celebrating a false victory and denying the danger is still around us".

The CMD advised the public to shelve all forms of social engagement for now, including parties, churches, mosques and meetings.

"Wash your hands frequently and before you touch the face, eyes and mouth.

"Wear face mask, maintain a social distance of at least six feet away from others where you must be with anyone," he said.

Commenting, the Chairman, Medical Advisory Committee (CMAC), Prof. Wasiu Adeyemo, said everyone thought that the pandemic was over.

Adeyemo said that there were periods in November when the hospital had zero admittance in its wards.

"We planned to move to a smaller place, which we actually did, but had to come back to our 120 bed facilities; we never shut down the centre.

"We did not only witness increased numbers, but the severity also increased.

"Before now, we were not talking about vaccine, but about myths that COVID-19 was not real," he said.

Also, Dr Iorhen Akase, Head, Infectious Disease Unit, said that the hospital observed increased mild cases in the first wave, pointing out that the second wave was severe.

'Obey safety protocols or... '

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has also expressed concern over the high number of cases of coronavirus recorded in the state.

Sanwo-Olu, in a statement on Wednesday, urged residents to observe measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, noting that the state government was doing everything possible to avoid another lockdown.

Sanwo-Olu, who recently recovered from the virus, was reacting to the recent report by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC that showed that Lagos recorded 712 out of the total 1,354 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Nigeria on Tuesday.

"There is an urgent need for us to be more circumspect in the way we live, interact and socialise with our friends and family. Many people are ignoring #COVID19 warnings and guidelines, thereby exposing themselves and others to the virus.

"Lagos scarily recorded its highest number of infections in one day (712). We have already recorded a frightening spike in infection cases. This spike brings positive cases to a total of 32,720 in Lagos alone.

"This second wave comes with severe symptoms, and the higher number of positive cases we detect, the higher number of casualties we are bound to record. We do not want this, but for this to be avoided, we must be intentional and cautious.

"We also do not want to go into another lockdown. It is important that you wear your masks, avoid crowded areas, wash or sanitise your hands regularly, and practice social distancing," he said.

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