‘CORO Na Scam’? – A Dangerous Nigerian Narrative ▪By Nnadube Jonathan Ejiogu

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Coro na scam” has become a convenient rhetoric on the lips of many Nigerians. It interprets that this deadly virus is not real in Nigeria. The reason for such unguided assumption must have originated from the fact that there is a subtle philosophy among Nigerians that the government is only taking advantage of the pandemic outbreak to embezzle money and continue in their corrupt practices. Even among learned people, this philosophy seems to firmly hold court. Some have mocked the government saying that they can clairvoyantly confirm that Corona virus is not real in Nigeria else why has it not been killing people as witnessed abroad. Some others share the notion that it is a “big man” sickness as they support their claim with the fact that it has only been killing the rich. In all of these, the coordinating reason for the misinformation seems to have gain grounds because most people do not trust the government’s good conscience and such has distorted the delicate balance upon which the reception for fact is placed. But Is Coro truly a scam in Nigeria?
Someone once said, “we know your dog is friendly and can’t bite, but chain it”. Overtime, we might have developed a rock-solid impression about COVID, making us to care less if we forget to go out without a mask; to you, that homemade aphorism becomes concretized: whether you believe or not, mask up.
On January 4, South Africa announced it has witnessed a new variant similar to the one discovered to have been wreaking huge damage in the UK. To confirm this, Dr. Benjamin Neuman, a virologist at Texas A & M University Texarkana, USA, has informed that the mutation of the virus is expected as viruses do mutate and that “as viruses mutate, their chance of survival increases”. He further adds that “mostly the changes are bad for each individual virus, but together, a population of weaker but more diverse viruses has a better chance of survival than the same sized population of identical viruses”.
The point to note is that, since it is scientifically confirmed that mutation is possible and in fact, expected, then South Africa might be correct in their discovery. Recently, it has been discovered that the SARS-CoV-2 virus has been discovered in Nigeria. Although, both Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director General NCDC; John Nkengasong, head, African Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the African Center of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Disease, Ede, Osun State, Nigeria, have given similar reports on the variant, maintaining that the new variant found in Nigeria is not entirely the same as the one (P681H variant/ B.1.1.7 lineage) found in the UK and South Africa. However, report has it that the variant is 70% more transmissible. This is corroborated by the fact that Nigeria has since witnessed a 52% increase higher than that of South Africa that is pegged at 40%. This increase is really very worrisome and disturbing, especially upon the knowledge that the majority seems not to care about this fact.
It was announced by the NCDC recently that 1430 new cases was recorded with death toll now in six figures.
Also, a friend called to apologise for not responding to my earlier call some days ago giving the reason that she was down with COVID. She said she did not know she had it, even though she had been a little bit ill, but because she was to travel to the US and needed to get her COVID test to confirm she is negative, she realized she is positive. Although she is safe now, but the question is, who infected her with it? Who infected the person that infected that person? Who has she infected with it as well? Will these people who may not be travelling ever know that what is wrong with them is not just fever, stress or Malaria but that deadly COVID they thought resides abroad only?
In the same vein, how many people today are walking viruses? As we begin to answer these questions, we should share in the faith of the adage that says “we know your dog is friendly and can’t bite, but chain it”. Since the survival of one rests on another taking responsibility, then the convivial effort in observing all safety precautions is unavoidably important.
As a people, are we doing just enough to contain the virus? Are we actually taking responsibility to ensure our safety and that of others? With the rate of the spread of this new variant/linage and so many people that are yet to be tested, don’t we think that we are all potential carriers of the virus already? The empirical explanation has not been given as to why, unlike other yonder places, Nigeria seems to be surviving from the catastrophe of deaths littering our streets as people go in and come out of COVID like every other familiar sicknesses. But does that go to suggest that one should continue in this unhealthy health precaution culture? Not long ago, Nigeria lost prominent academicians to this new variant and other prominent people including those from the entertainment industry have come up to admit that they contracted the virus. Are these public figures and even the unknown people making it all up?
One would have thought that by now, there would have been full mask-up compliance. That all offices MUST ensure that their staff mask up at all times and are subjected to periodic test, especially those that engage a lot of staff. One would have thought that our commercial motorists – drivers and conductors- would be wearing face shields and stop those who are not masking up from boarding their vehicles. One would have thought that by now, the NURTW operatives on field would be shielding up as well and ensure that offending drivers in their union are delayed. One would have also thought that there will be officers on the road who will not only be arresting but cautioning those without masks on the road. There is a need for us to ensure these measures are put in place, if for anything, for the existence of another person.

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