By Chioma Ndife : …Says Pandemic Exposed Massive Inadequacies in Nigeria
Following the outbreak of the Coronavirus in Wuhan, China, and its devastating effects threating the safety of humans across different countries of the world, the Auxiliary Bishop of Awka Diocese, His Lordship Most Rev. Jonas Benson Okoye, has called for standard equipment at centres mapped out by the Federal and State Governments to serve as quarantine quarters for the management of the deadly virus.
Bishop Okoye who spoke exclusively to Fides through a phone interview on Wednesday, March 25, said adequate equipment of centres was required to ensure speedy recovery of those who showed symptoms of the virus. He stated that it would be unforgiving on the part of any government to put people in quarantine zones without basic facilities, saying that unavailability of facilities killed faster than coronavirus itself.
‘This is no time to play politics. The government should show what is available for containing the coronavirus pandemic,’ the Bishop stated, recalling how the media space was awash with reports of a UK returnee in Enugu State said to have contracted the virus, but later tested negative. He regretted that the woman’s isolation in a poor, under-equipped facility led to her death.
The bishop said the provision of well-equipped isolation centres by government at various levels would prevent such situation from recurring.
He disclosed that the pandemic situation had exposed more inadequacies in Nigeria’s medical, social and economic system, which, he said, had prevented most citizens from abiding by the basic health measures relating to constant hand-washing and social distancing, especially in public vehicles, among others.
Bishop Okoye said that communities without steady water supply, especially in the dry season, might not be able to constantly wash their hands, even as he said that low income earners would bear the brunt of social distancing in vehicles as transporters would likely double fares.
He said the pandemic situation should awaken the government to look more critically into the welfare of the citizenry and improve facilities even after the coronavirus pandemic. He noted adequate planning, future forecast and putting facilities in place should be embarked upon by the government after the battle with the present pandemic to prepare the nation ahead of other situations that could emanate later.
On the proposed total lockdown of markets, Bishop Okoye explained that such action would have its own challenges as it would affect businesses and daily livelihood.
He said the problems that would arise from market closure and other activities would be far greater than that of the virus. He maintained that most advanced countries were able to shut down because the government provided alternatives to cater for their citizenry while they were at home.
He beckoned on all to be ready to suffer deprivation of liberty with attendant inconveniences arising from the directives which government had issued out in a bid to curtail the spread of the virus.
He said the virus seemed not to be ravaging Nigerian due to the hot climate, noting that such could be linked to why Nigeria had not started recording deaths on daily basis, given the poor hygienic life style of many.
He stated that no information should be taken for granted as everyone had a role to play in curbing the spread of the deadly virus, saying that the fight required coordinated efforts from all agencies of government and the cooperation of the citizens.
He advised all to wash their hands and sanitize regularly as recommended by experts, maintain social distancing, abide by the preventive measures stipulated by World Health Organization, as well as pay special attention to their personal hygiene during and even after the pandemic crisis.
He harped on the effectiveness of prayer at the pandemic period and called on all to pray for God’s infinite mercy upon the world in order to heal it of its current situation that se