Time to shut down our Capital Cities Right now – By Toibudeen Oduniyi

March 23, 2020

Folks, this is indeed a very difficult period for mankind.
Across the globe Covid-19 continues to ravage many countries, with different
level of casualties but growing level of infection. One by one, our partners
are shutting down to protect their citizens. In a similar vein, the attendant
economic impact is being tackled with massive injection of public funds, with
Nigeria not being left behind in this area.

It is comforting to know that just like during the Ebola
period, our medical personnel have performed admirably well and we should be
very proud of them. The Italian commonly referred to as the index case has
successfully recovered and now tests negative. We hope the rest of the
identified infected people will recover soon. Our limited capability to test
and treat the infected people virus is a cause for concern so the government
needs to respond to this with a sense of urgency.

The action of the Federal government in shutting our
international airports though belated is welcomed. This was long overdue as we
know this disease is being brought into the country by incoming travellers.
Suspension of schools and other places of large concentration of people is also
a move in the right direction. Lagos State has set the ball rolling by asking
Civil Servants from Grade Level 12 and above to stay at home, quickly followed
by Kwara State. However, we need to do more.

There is no reason why we should not trigger a partial
shutdown by locking down our major cities particularly the State Capitals. As
the virus gradually travels round the country, the danger increases. We are
naturally very intimate people and with no curtailment of freedom of travel, we
are creating a wider infection landscape. One wonders what could have happened
if we had shut our borders since the beginning of the month. In our densely
populated areas, the impact of infection going viral is frightening. It will be
foolhardy to believe the 30 cases discovered so far is all we have so far.
Countries at similar levels four weeks ago has seen a geometric explosion in
infection hence we need to act now!!

If we lockdown all our State Capitals for the next 14 days,
hopefully we can detect and lock in infected people and prevent them from
infecting others. China has proved how effective shutdown and isolation can be,
so we should be brave enough to proactively embark on this painful measure, but
it has to be done.  

Community and religious leaders must be mobilised to appeal
to the people to be cooperative and supportive of each other, Our social
structure can support the pain and sacrifice needed for two weeks, the bigger
gain must remain in focus. State Governors can design palliative programs and
organise State agencies to ensure food supplies doesn’t run too low and the
police should be fully mobilised to ensure law and order. 

At present, we only have five Centres capable of treating
infected Covid-19 patients – two in Lagos, one in Abuja, one in Edo and one in
Ede. It is important that the government quickly sets up additional centres in
at least each of the six geopolitical zones by converting any suitable
facility. One hopes the government has already taken steps to order essential
supplies and mobilise the professionals needed to be treating infected people
like ventilators, Doctors and Nurses that are in short supply globally and
create a special corridor for distributing them to the State capitals.

Toibudeen Oduniyi


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