Nwanosike Onu, Awka; Okungbowa Aiwerie, Asaba; Onimisi Alao, Yola; Augustine Okezie, Katsina and Justina Asishana, Minna
As it would be expected, Nigerians have been panic-stricken since the deadly Coronavirus, which broke out in China, found its way into the country last week. Although the index case of an Italian visitor to Nigeria was recorded in Lagos State, no fewer than 100 people have been quarantined between the state and its neighbouring Ogun, where the Italian was said to have visited the popular Ewekoro Cement Factory.
It has been a case of the Italian sneezing and the entire country catching cold as every Nigerian from Lagos to Kano and from Maiduguri to Port Harcourt now lives in fear of the dreaded virus and are employing whatever strategy they can to ensure that they don’t become victims.
‘Legshake’ makes debut in Anambra
In Anambra State, for instance, some residents have resorted to exchanging greetings with their legs instead of the traditional handshake. Indeed, this group of Nigerians are now in the habit of keeping their hands in their pockets most of the time to avoid contact with anyone.
Also worthy of note is the fact that the situation has led many women in the state into taking a lot of hot drinks since keeping warn and taking alcohol are said to be some of the measures that can keep the virus at bay.
Since the news of the virus broke, sanitizers and nose masks have become hot cakes in the pharmacy stores and supermarkets in Anambra State. In Awka, the capital of the state, members of the staff of one of the new generation banks now wear hand gloves and cover their noses while attending to customers.
The owner of one of the biggest computer outlets in the state capital, Mrs Nnenna Martins Okafor, told our correspondents that she washes her hands with sanitizer every 30 minutes. Besides, she wears hand gloves to avoid touching money for fear of the virus.
Mrs Ogomegbunam Uduh, a fashion designer, told The Nation that most women, including herself, now take lots of alcohol to prevent the virus.
Asked why, she said: “When things like this happen, you have to follow the crowd. We heard it works, so I had to join the chorus because prevention is better than cure”.
Again, according to her, she has to avoid crowded areas and take lots of fruits.
When our correspondent visited one of the supermarkets and pharmacy stores in Aroma, a nurse, who pleaded anonymity, said that sanitizer and nose mask businesses were booming.
She said: “In fact, we are looking for where to buy because of the way customers are rushing them. She, however, said they were selling at normal prices.
Speaking with our correspondents in Awka, the Anambra State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr C. Don Adinuba, said the state government had written letters to churches, markets and schools, among others, as part of the sensitization.
He told the Anambra State House of Assembly communication is 90 per cent component in tackling the scourge, adding that Anambra State was the first to raise the alarm, knowing full well that people of the state travel a lot, especially to China, because of their business interests.
Shop owners collect money with bowls in Asaba
Delta indigenes are taking extraordinary measures to avoid the spread of Coronavirus with many devising ingenious means to avoid contracting the virus.
A cross section of residents, who spoke with The Nation, stressed that they no longer go to crowded places. A youth corps member, Ayomide Adekunle, said she studiouly avoids body contacts, especially when she is a public vehicle.
She said: “Whenever I am in a commercial vehicle, I sit in the front seat to avoid body contacts with other commuters. Many commuters often come into taxis sweating, and since the virus can be transmitted through body contact, I shift away into a corner.
“I have also bought sanitizers and face masks. As further precautionary measure, I go to crowded places only when it is absolutely necessary.”
Mrs Justina Uduophori, a dealer in used clothes at the popular Ogbeogonogo Market, said to avoid direct contact with customers, she has a plastic bowl into which customers, who visit her shop drop money for the goods they purchase.
She said: “My brother, since this corona virus palaver, I have decided to place a plastic bowl for my customers to put their money. This is meant to reduce my contact with strangers. Once this problem is over, I will start collecting money with my hands again.”
With the upsurge in the demand for facial masks, the item has become a scarce commodity in the Delta State capital. Attendants in some pharmacies visited within the metropolis said facial masks had become scarce because of huge demand for them.
A pharmacist, who preferred anonymity, said: “Suddenly, face masks, which sold for N30 and N50, have become scarce, shooting the price up to N100 per mask.”
The Delta State Commissioner for Health, Dr Mordi Ononye, said that necessary machinery was being put in place to effectively manage the situation, especially in the rural areas. Mordi said motorised enlightenment campaigns have been deployed in many rural communities to combat the spread of the virus.
Albino man mistaken for Chinese causes stir in Yola
The fear of Coronavirus became the basis of a stampede during the week at a restaurant in Yola, the Adamawa State capital.
People at the restaurant, a popular eat-in facility in Jimeta, had been enjoying their meal when suddenly an albino man appeared.
A source, who related the incident to our correspondent, said the incident occurred on Tuesday evening.
He said: “All was calm until an Albino man walked into the crowded place. The moment the man walked in dressed in an expensive coat, the crowd looked at one another, and in a twinkle of an eye, the entire place was deserted, leaving the Albino embarrassed and stranded, as the people took him for a Chinese national.”
Other than the isolated incident, however, life remains as it has always been in Yola and the rest of Adamawa State with regard to the outbreak of coronavirus.
Residents still cram themselves in vehicles and exchange handshakes in disregard to warnings against Coronavirus.
You would not see people in face masks, nor is use of hand sanitizers known to have become the norm.
Relevant officials of the state government could not be reached for comments at press time for an update on safety campaigns against the virus. Even the state Director of Public Health Emergencies, Dr Bwalki Dilli, who usually speaks for the government on such matters, was not forthcoming.
He had, however, said some days earlier that the state Ministry of Health had activated its response mechanism and was ready for any emergency.
He had said the state was using its various mass media houses, including a radio station, a TV station and a newspaper, to enlighten the populace on how to avoid the virus and why they should report any unusual symptoms to the health centre nearest to them where he said officials had been updated on how to deal with such situations.
Reporter shuns handshake with Indian at Lagos shopping mall
At a shopping mall in Lagos last Sunday, Mr. Tolu Adelaja(not real name) a journalist, had a dramatic encounter with an Indian man. After parking the car at the lot, the family had hardly alighted when the locks jammed.
All the reporter’s efforts to open the locks with the automated key proved futile. He, therefore, decided to alert some artisans nearby, who also tried fruitlessly to open the locks.
One of them then drew the attention of an Indian, a technician attached to the mall. The Indian came to the car park, expressed his sympathy to Adelaja and then offered his hands.
To the chagrin of those present, however, the journalist shunned the handshake and quickly moved away to avoid any form of body contact with the Indian.
Everybody there was befuddled as the embarrassed Indian left the scene fuming and cursing under his breath.
Katsina residents bank on divine protection
In Katsina State, however, residents appeared unperturbed by the news of the outbreak of Coronavirus and are going about their normal activities without fear.
Malam Muhammed Abdul, a 45-year-old trader in the busy Central Market in Katsina, sounded religious when he told our correspondent in Hausa that the state enjoys divine protection, adding that it would never experience the COVID-19 or any other disease.
He said: ’’We thank God for divine protection. Katsina will never experience Coronavirus. It will not reach us. We also thank the federal and state governments for what they are doing to prevent the spread.’’
It is also a poor market for dealers of protective masks, hand sanitizers and other protective items as virtually everyone in the streets, public and private houses wear no such things.
It was only during the harmattan period, which has just ended, that people were seen wearing masks and hand gloves and stockings. But now that the state is fast returning to hot season periods, those items have been discarded.
When The Nation visited tertiary institutions and public schools in the state, they were devoid of any fear or apprehension of disease outbreaks.
Meanwhile, the Katsina State Government has announced plans to engage the Red Cross Society of Nigeria and other non- governmental organisations in the state to checkmate the spread of the deadly virus through sensitization campaigns, door-door awareness talks on personal hygiene and clean environments in traditional worship centers and every social engagement, including marriage ceremonies and other gatherings. This is to ensure that people are adequately informed about the health challenges associated with the virus.
The state’s Commissioner for Health, Engineer Yakubu Danja, told newsmen in his office that the state government was already aware of the outbreak of the disease globally and as well as the recent confirmed case in Lagos and remained poised to sensitize the people and adequately check its spread
He said: ’’The Ministry of Health and all the relevant stakeholders are well positioned to ensure that people are adequately sensitised about the COVID-19 and to ensure that all necessary steps are taken to prevent the spread of the disease in the state.’’
In Niger, it’s business as usual
In Niger State, there has been no observation of special things done by people to avoid Coronavirus. Our correspondent did not observe any strange way of greeting in the state after observing individuals and how they greeted.
In public and private places, there were no signs of hand-washers being introduced. Neither was there any sign of sanitizers for use by workers. A visit to the state ministry complex and other ministries and agencies showed that provisions had not been made for hand washing and sanitising activities.
A visit to three supermarkets and stores in Minna showed that there has not been any remarkable rise in the demand for sanitizers or face masks. One of the stores visited said that no one had been to the store to buy a face mask, while in the past one week, the sale of sanitizers had not increased that much.
The Niger State Ministry of Health, with the aim of increasing its sensitization and mobilization regarding the coronavirus in the state, has met with traditional medicine healers and community informants to seek their cooperation in reporting anyone who shows signs of having Coronavirus.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Joseph Kolo, said that these people have been urged not to shield anyone as it would be dangerous to them and the community if they shield such persons.
He said that there were ongoing announcements and jingles on the virus and what needs to be done on the radio and television stations in the state.
Kolo further said that the capacity of disease surveillance officers and health workers had been strengthened to enable them to spot any suspected case.
He said that all general hospitals across the state had been directed to make provision for an emergency room where any suspected case will be kept before the case is transferred to the Minna General hospital where a provision has been made for an isolation center.
The Permanent Secretary also said that the emergency operation centre was in operation, where there is live monitoring of what is happening in the state and the country.
He explained that they had not made provisions for washing and sanitizing hands in public because the ministry wanted to imbibe the attitude of washing, which is the reason for the sensitization and mobilization of the people in the state.