On the 24th of March, local news media in Nigeria revealed the president’s chief of staff and a serving State governor, as latest high profile persons who have contracted the novel coronavirus. While many Nigerians on social media have showed excitement, with some even claiming the virus is a scourge from “God” to purge the Nation of it’s corrupt leaders; many have paid less attention to the alarmingly low number of confirmed cases announced by Nigeria’s CDC (center for disease control), in relation to other nations who reported index cases later than Nigeria’s
While South Africa has currently reported over 550 cases, Nigeria’s CDC says Africa’s most populous nation has confirmed only 44 cases thus far. One likely reason for Nigeria’s confirmed low positive cases is that the country had tested only 152 people as at the 22nd of March. Compared with South Africa which has conducted over 16,000 tests so far and Algeria which has reported over 200 cases.
Africa’s largest oil producer and most populous Nation’s slow test pace, is ironically attributed to its lean healthcare infrastructure and not a personnel deficiency. The entire number of ventilators across the country is not exactly known, but is widely believed to be grossly insufficient. With the World Bank pledging over $15 Billion US to help developing countries combat the spread of the deadly virus; Chinese billionaire “Jack Ma”, has also reportedly donated relief materials to Nigeria but many Nigerians stil doubt the honesty and capacity of the government to protect citizens.
In the event of a full blown outbreak, Nigeria’s death toll might attain record levels, if the government fails to employ new approaches to public safety and improved transparency.
By Cephas Kadiri