The rapidly increasing cases of COVID-19 infection and attendant high death toll should be of grave concern to all Nigerians. But from every indication, that does not seem to be the case.
Latest statistics from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, paint a frightening picture that death lurks at every corner, even as Nigerians appear oblivious of this, preferring to live in denial of the danger staring us all in the face.
According to the NCDC on its Covid-19 update between January 26 and February 1, 2021, the nation recorded 1,988 new COVID-19 cases with 23 deaths bringing the total to 131,242 cases and 1,586 deaths in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
From the NCDC figures, in the last two weeks alone, over 20,000 new cases were recorded in 24 states from which 128 died. Most of the victims, it has emerged, died as a result of shortage of oxygen in hospitals and in isolation centres.
The unfolding scenario prompted the NCDC and the Presidential Task Force, PTF, on COVID-19 to intensify efforts in sounding the alarm.
The PTF warns that Nigerians must immediately come to grips with the stark reality that the COVID-19 pandemic is real, not over, and that the second wave of the infection presently ravaging the world poses a greater danger than the first wave.
So, it is baffling that despite this warning, majority of Nigerians remain irrationally indifferent and appear oblivious of the danger as they continue to ignore all prevention and safety guidelines from relevant government institutions and agencies. All entreaties for adherence seem to have fallen on deaf ears.
Daily, the streets and markets are thronged by crowds that exhibit nonchalance for the safety protocols. Commercial vehicles are routinely crammed with passengers even as crowds of revelers gather at social events, all in disregard of recommended safety precautions.
All these, obviously, account for the current increasing second wave of infections and the concomitant high death toll. The Federal Government only stopped short of imposing another lockdown on account of the adverse socioeconomic impact that it would have.
However, there must be order and control if an impending disaster is to be averted. Prevention is better than cure. Reality check shows that something needs to be done fast in the interest of all. The relevant agencies of government and non-governmental groups must join hands to help enforce compliance with the safety protocols.
There should be greater and sustained public sensitisation and education on the basic preventive options and non-pharmaceutical interventions that include wearing of face masks, hand hygiene and social distancing to help minimise physical contact and thus check the transmission of the virus.
A stitch in time saves nine.