SINCE the Federal Government’s intention to acquire and inoculate Nigerians with COVID-19 vaccines was made public, I have read several critical comments against the plan by some Nigerians opposing the move without proposing alternative solution to the pandemic in our country.
Most of the opposing views are hinged on myths, conspiracy theories and blatant denial of the existence of the disease. But one thing some of them failed to understand is the fact that the number of COVID-19 victims being recorded daily by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, are not just figures but fellow human beings with dreams, aspirations, visions and passion for both individual and collective successes.
They are the fathers who are breadwinners of their various families; mothers, sisters and brothers who worked hard daily to realize ambition but got trapped in the web of the dreaded pandemic. As at the time of writing this piece, there are over 1,547 deaths caused by coronavirus while there are over 127,024 confirmed cases with 24,619 active cases – these are citizens undergoing treatments in various treatments centers across the federation; apart from the huge resources spent in the treatment of 100,858 patients who recovered from the disease and have been discharged.
Nevertheless, now that the new strain of the virus – B117 found in the United Kingdom has been discovered in the country, only God knows what would have been the fate of Nigeria had President Muhammadu Buhari not signed the ‘COVID-19 Health Protection Regulations 2021’ bill into law to contain the rapid spread of the disease in the country, especially the new variant – B117 which spreads faster than the normal virus. The new law which has made the use of facemask and adherence to Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions mandatory in any part of the federation irrespective of locality was signed by the President by virtue of section 4 of the Quarantine Act.
Part of the law reads: “In the exercise of the powers conferred upon me by Section 4 of the Quarantine Act, Cap. Q2 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2010 and all other powers enabling me in that behalf; and in consideration of the urgent need to protect the health and wellbeing of Nigerians in the face of the widespread and rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in Nigeria, I, Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, hereby make the following Regulations.
“The first part of the new regulations imposes restrictions of gatherings and enforces a physical distancing of not less than two meters between persons at all times. The part also provides that no gathering of more than 50 persons shall hold in an enclosed space, except for religious purposes, in which case the gathering shall not exceed 50 per cent capacity of the space.
All persons in public gatherings, whether in enclosed or open spaces, shall adhere to the provisions of Part two of these Regulations. The provisions of these regulations may be varied by Guidelines and Protocols as may be issued, from time to time, by the PTF on COVID-19 on the recommendation of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC.
The second part of the law addresses operations of public places like open markets, malls, supermarkets, shops, restaurants, hotels, event centers, gardens, leisure parks, recreation centers, motor parks and fitness centers. The law provides for wearing of face masks, hands washing, and the use of hand sanitizer, amongst other regulations. It stipulates a penalty of a fine or a prison of six months for offenders. ”Before now, government strategy has been on interrupting the viral transmission of the disease; reducing its risk on the health system from being overwhelmed due to increased demand, minimizing mortality among most vulnerable parts of the population until the curve is finally flattened.