By Arowona Abdulazeez
The world woke up to the news of the outbreak of novel coronavirus (nCoV) in Wuhan in the Peoples Republic of China in mid-December 2019 and since then, the narrative is yet to change, rather, it is becoming more contagious and threatening to the global health situation.
nCoV is capable of spreading from person to person and the World Health Organisation has since raised alarm on the need for nations across the world to be proactive and raise up to the challenge before it is too late.
Unfortunately, everything has become politics in Nigeria; even the ongoing fight against insurgency has become a serious security threat that is at the moment, beyond the power of the Nigeria Military (Army, Navy and Airforce) as well as other security apparatus involved in the operations.
Mr. President, it will be very disastrous if nCoV find its way into Nigeria as a result of display of carelessness, lack of sincerity of purpose, unpatriotic tendencies, corruption and incompetencies to mention but few by agencies that are in charge of health related matters in the nation.
It was a very frightened and sad experience that I had on arrival at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport on Friday 7, February 2020.
I left Nigeria for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia enroute Dubai on Wednesday 9, January 2020 on a business and Umrah trip for the second time in the year 2020 and third time within a period of eight months.
I boarded Emirate Airline EK0801 which conveyed me along with nationals from other countries to the commercial city of Jeddah from where I linked up my locations of business concerns amidst very tight health alert by the government of Saudi Arabia due to the prevailing novel coronavirus infection which is spreading so fast globally.
Research has revealed that, the incubation period (time from exposure to onset of symptoms) ranges from 2 to 14 days, but it may be contagious during this period and after recovery. Symptoms include fever, coughing and breathing difficulties. An estimate of the death rate in February 2020 was 2% of confirmed cases, higher among those who require admission to hospital.
As of early February 2020, there is no vaccine and no specific treatment. Several vaccine approaches and antivirals are being investigated.
As of 7 February 2020, 31,532 cases have been confirmed, while 639 deaths have been attributed to the virus since the first confirmed death on 9 January, with 1,564 recoveries. The first local transmission outside China occurred in Vietnam between family members, while the first local transmission not involving family occurred in Germany, on 22 January, when a German man contracted the disease from a Chinese business visitor at a meeting. The first death outside China was reported in the Philippines, where a 44-year-old male from Wuhan died on 1 February.
However, I confirmed that the government of Saudi Arabia is fully prepared to prevent the outbreak of the deadly infection in the region owing to the influx of pilgrims in millions from different parts of the world as well as others who are also on business trips.
Sadly, my experience today revealed to me that no one is save in Nigeria, except by the favour of God because, we are all prone to contacting nCoV at any time. The flight, ET901I connected the flight at the Bole International Airport, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia along with other passengers from United States of America, (USA), United Kingdom, India, Malaysia, Jakarta, Indonesia as well as China, being the nCoV infection region, landed at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport at exactly 12.08pm.
I was full of anxiety to see immigration officers carefully separating Nigerians from Chinese passengers, as well as seeing health officers taking them over for appropriate check-up, screening and possible detainment.
Unfortunately, no screening was carried out on anyone, rather, we were all requested to queue (including the Chinese) and were given forms to fill, therein, our bio-data was requested along with health records. After filling and submitting the one-page form, we were all allowed to move out of the counter together with about 10 Chinese, to collect our luggage.
I was highly nervous and disappointed with the ways and manners our officials are carrying out their duties at the airport, waiting for undue bribes, gifts/inducement as against national interest based assignment given to them which they’ve taken oath of office to carry out diligently .
To me, it will be too bad for us to rely on such arrangement and process to detect carriers of such deadly infection understanding the fact that industries in Nigeria employ the services of Chinese in their operation and production processes, therefore, more of them would be coming into the country regularly. I believe that the federal government has released large sum of money to the federal ministry of health in the regard as well as intervention fund from WHO. What have they used the money for?
Who is fooling? Stop playing politics with our lives? We cannot continue like this as a nation.
It would be recalled that the federal government recently announced that adequate arrangement have been made in six International airports across the in which MM, Int’l, Lagos is inclusive. I want to categorically put on record that there are lapses in the process, and it calls for immediate probe by relevant authorities before it is too late. That was how late Sawyer found his way into Nigeria with Ebola virus, which eventually led to the death of Dr. (Mrs) Adadevoh.
Arowona Abdulazeez, a journalist, author and public affairs analyst write via [email protected]