News Analysis: Believing the Reality of Novel Coronavirus in Nigeria
News Agency of Nigeria
The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) a global pandemic on March 11, 2020, few months after the disease spread from Wuhan, China, killing thousands and disrupting the world on all corners.
The impact of the pandemic is felt every day in countries including Nigeria, as infection rises and death toll increases.
More than 12.7 million people around the world were diagnosed with COVID-19 as at July 12, and more than 565,000 died, according to a tally by the Johns Hopkins University in the United States
More than seven million patients have recovered, it notes.
WHO confirmed a record increase in global coronavirus cases, with the total rising by 230,370 in 24 hours as at July 12.
In Africa, the virus has infected at least, 594,955 people, with 13,246 deaths.
As at July 13, Nigeria’s coronavirus burden hit 32,588, with 13,447 recoveries and 740 deaths.
Analysts are worried that in spite of the growing number of infections and deaths, there have been doubts by many Nigerians that the virus exists in the country.
Many Nigerians allege that government authorities are inflating the figures to justify huge amounts of money voted to combat the pandemic by both government and private sectors.
More worrisome is that some educated citizens expected to enlighten others are also expressing the doubts.
This can be seen in the way many Nigerians shun the health guidelines provided by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and WHO to check the spread of COVID-19.
The guidelines include wearing of face masks in public, maintaining physical distancing, regular washing of hands with soap and running water, and use of alcohol-based hand sanitisers.
Many Nigerians still crowd the markets, buses, banks and other public places without wearing face masks. Only few keep to the protocols.
A businessman at Eke-Awka Market in Awka, Mr Godwin Okala, is among those who do not believe the virus exists in Nigeria.
If COVID-19 is here as they claim, dead bodies would have been lying on the streets and more people would have been infected, going by the way the banks, markets and even some places of worship are crowded,” he claims.
A civil servant who gave his name simply as Uche believes that COVID-19 is a `white man’s disease’ and cannot affect the black man.
” I do not believe this disease is here in our country because it originated from the white man’s country. Africans are genetically immune to the disease,” he claims.
Mrs Mary Anyamele, a trader at Okpuno in Awka South LGA, is of the opinion that Nigeria’s weather is too hot for novel coronavirus to survive.
“I do not believe any individual has the virus in our country. I am yet to see anybody with a confirmed case of COVID-19. Until I see one, I can’t believe,” she says.
To some analysts, it is, therefore, not surprising that many individuals ignore COVID-19 precautionary measures, while some contracted the disease and are even having symptoms refuse to report for treatment.
This denial is dangerous for Nigeria and a major setback in the fight against the virus, they say.
The United Nations Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon, expresses concern over the denial.
“To ignore expert advice at this time is dangerous, not only to the people involved but other people around them and their various communities at large.
“There is only one way out and that is diligent adherence to NCDC and WHO guidelines. The UN is working with the government at both the federal and state levels to flatten the curve of the pandemic.
“This will be difficult to achieve if members of the public don’t do their part, which is, abiding by WHO and NCDC guidelines,” he emphasises.
Dr Olisaeloka Lotenna, a public health physician at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Anambra, is sad that many Nigerians, even the educated, seem not to care as they believe that government is manufacturing the number of cases.
“This is dangerous. It is helping to spread the disease.’’
Lotenna suggests that COVID-19 survivors should help to convince Nigerians that the disease is real.
“Maybe the government needs to start sensitising discharged patients on the need to tell their survival stories, “says Lotenna.
Prof. Innocent Ujah, a former Director-General of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, blames refusal to observe COVID-19 precautionary measures on misinformation and disinformation.
Ujah says there is the need to make COVID-19 survivors advocates of compliance with the protocols so as to send out convincing messages to doubting Nigerians.
“We do not need to see dead bodies on the streets to believe that COVID-19 is real. The reality is that this disease is real and it is killing people in large numbers.
“The National Orientation Agency needs to work with survivors and adopt a sustainable and expanded communication strategy to make our people to stop doubting but take responsibility for their health,” he urges.
Anambra State Commissioner for Health, Dr Vincent Okpala, urges survivors of COVID-19 to disregard stigma and tell their stories to make Nigerians more aware of the pandemic and more cautious to save lives.
According to Okpala, it is time to use the experiences of survivors to fight the ignorance among Nigerians.
“I just do not understand why people are still doubting the existence of coronavirus disease. I have seen multiple COVID-19-related deaths, and families are hiding the cause of death due to stigma.
“How else do we fight stigma if not by going head-on to tell our stories?
“Telling a survival story is a good story, it is like giving a testimony in church so that people can learn and thank God.
“If we continue to live in denial and ignore the health guidelines, cases will rise and casualties might increase.
“We need survivors to be ambassadors. You will not know how many lives you are saving by coming out to share your experiences.
“We need the voices of survivors to tell our people that COVID-19 is real and killing people.”
Okpala believes that narrating survivors’ experiences will help more Nigerians to be cautious, adhere to health guidelines, and go for tests when they notice symptoms and thereby present themselves early for treatment.
“This will help to reduce the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths.
“It is not only the healthcare workers on the frontline of the fight against this pandemic that are saving lives, survivors who become advocates will be saving lives too,” Okpala argues. (END)
*If used, please credit the writer and the agency*** https://nnn.ng/news-analysis-believing-the-reality-of-novel-coronavirus-in-nigeria/
NCDC announces 195 new COVID-19 cases, death toll hits 1,100
The NCDC made this known on its official twitter handle on Monday.
According to the agency, the new infection takes the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 57,437.
The health agency sadly reported two new deaths raising the death toll in the country to 1,100.
It also reported that 105 patients who had been treated and had also recovered from the infection were discharged across the country.
Among other states that recorded new cases were Rivers (12), Kaduna (8), Ondo (3), Bauchi (2), Edo (1), and Ogun (1).
According to the agency, till date, 57,437 cases have been confirmed, 48,674 cases have been discharged and 1100 deaths have been recorded in 36 states and the FCT.
The health agency said a multi-sectoral national emergency operation centre (EOC) activated at Level three, had continued to coordinate the national response activities across the country.
Meanwhile, the agency has warned that majority of Nigerian states were not testing enough.
It said, “We do not have enough data coming out of these states to ascertain if we are improving or not or where exactly we are.
“So we have to work together; in summary, it is way too early to make any interpretation whether we are flattening the curve or not.”
The NCDC appealed to more states to test consistently so that progress could be monitored on a national level.
Edited By: Ejike Obeta
NSE, others commit to expanding retail investment opportunities in capital market
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the webinar was on “Capital Market Investing in a Digital Age”.
Mr Oscar Onyema, Chief Executive Officer, NSE, in his address, said that investor participation was crucial to sustainable economic growth.
Onyema said that the Exchange was committed to playing its role in advancing the Federal Government’s financial inclusion goals.
“Investor participation is central to the growth of sustainable development of any economy.
“NSE is committed to playing a critical role in the advancement of the FG’s financial inclusion goals.
“As part of our efforts to realise the objectives of the financial inclusion, we intend to facilitate conversations which will serve to equip existing and potential investors with the necessary skill to effectively manage and grow financial resources at their disposal.
“In these engagements, we will also expand the retail investment opportunities available in the capital market and the channels through which they can be accessed,” Onyema said.
“The outbreak of COVID-19 adversely affected the global economy in many ways and at different magnitude.
“The Nigerian capital market was also negatively affected, with the market witnessing a downturn in Q1 of this year.
“However, the market rebounded in Q2 and as a result the NSE all share index has recorded a 18.9 per cent increase from its position at the end of March.
“The market also witnessed the growth in the percentage value of equity transactions contributed by retail investors, currently at 29 per cent from 21.8 per cent in 2018 and 24.72 per cent in 2019,” he said.
According to him, these highlight the market’s resilience in time of adversity and is a testament of market stakeholders’ ability to adapt.
Onyema said that digital technology played a significant role in achieving the positive results recorded in the NSE so far.
He said that technology had helped to make significant services more easily accessible.
Mr Laolu Martins, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, NISL, said that it had become imperative to ensure that retail investors were made aware of the opportunities inherent in the capital market.
Martins said that for retail investors, navigating through the web of processes in the capital market was usually difficult, thereby discouraging them from investing.
He said: “The general belief is that retail investors are often left behind and do not have enough knowledge on the workings of the capital market.
“NISL is a securities trading company, financial advisory service, offering consulting solutions to corporate bodies across the value of activities on the stock exchange.
“In order to invest properly, all investors need to carry out some sort of financial planning, no matter how small or big.
“We realised that for retail investors, it is usually difficult for them to navigate through these web of processes and other issues that create a bottleneck or discourage investors.”
Martins said that some processes that create difficulties for investors include budgeting, investment, savings, risk management and liquidity management.
“At NISL, we have enough expertise to ensure that we help our investors navigate through this web of terms and processes to ensure that their investment is rewarding,” he said.
Martins said the reason for the webinar was to expose some of the investment opportunities for retail investors.
“This webinar is to enlighten the investing public, retail investors, that they can buy bonds in the NSE and it is like lending your money to a company or a government entity.
“It is advisable that retail investors should approach their stockbrokers to guide them in which bond they should invest in,” he said.
Mr Femi Balogun, Head, Market services Department, NSE, spoke on the importance of market data in guiding investors’ decision.
“Market data is important to the investment of an intending investor.
“Some people are good at picking stocks, but If you use data to drive your decision in conjunction with your expertise, you make a better informed decision on your investment,” he said.
Amolegbe said that the Exchange had always provided avenues that would support and ensure a seamless investing process for retail and other investors.
Edited By: Tayo Ikujuni/Oluwole Sogunle
Imo Govt. moves to restore Owerri masterplan to check flooding
Gov. Hope Uzodimma of Imo, has said his administration is desirous to restore the original masterplan of Owerri, the capital city, as part of the efforts to tackle flood-related issues in the state.
Uzodinma said this on Monday, when a delegation of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) came on an advocacy to the state.
The governor, who was represented by the Secretary to State Government (SSG), Mr Cosmos Iwu, said that plans were underway to demolish all the houses built on the waterways in the city “in order to give the water access to flow into Otamiri River.”
He also said that government had carried out series of sensitisation programmes in the state aimed at preparing the people for emergencies and called for the agency’s support.
“We are appealing to NEMA to assist us because the environmental impact of the flood in Imo is bigger than us.
“We have been doing our best and we will continue to do our best. We have received some relief items from NEMA but we are asking for more.
“We also commend your visit to Imo, it shows serious commitment on the side of NEMA,” the governor said.
In a speech, the Director-General of the agency, AVM Mohammed Mohammed (rtd.), appealed to the state government and major disaster stakeholders to demonstrate greater commitment to disaster management.
Mohammed, who was represented by Deputy Director (Accounts) in the agency, Mr Abdul-Aziz Jibrin, said that the visit was to ascertain the level of preparedness by Imo government in case of any disaster.
He said that the state was among the states in Nigeria likely to witness flooding this year as predicted by the Nigeria Meteorological Agency.
The NEMA boss said that Imo had shown capacity in disaster management in the past and urged Gov. Hope Uzodimma to show more commitment in mitigating flood and other disasters in the state.
“We are here on advocacy visit and awareness campaign to sensitise the people on the need to be prepared at all times.
“I am assuring Imo of NEMA’s full commitment to partner with the government and dissaster stakeholders in the area of disaster management,” he said.
Mohammed listed Ohaji-Egbema, Ogutta, Oru-East and Owerri North as highly probable flood risk local government areas in the state.
He warned that other council areas, “which does not fall under high probability may also be affected.”
He said that although the state seemed prepared for any disaster, there was need for the government to ensure regular sensitisation of the people to be vigilant.
“We have interacted with all the disaster stakeholders and government and I can assure you that we are satisfied with their level of preparedness.
“But they must not relent in showing commitment at all times,” Mohammed said.
He said the agency was also in Imo to interact with other disaster stakeholders to know their challenges and the way forward.
The Commander, 211 Quick Response Group Nigerian Air Force, Group Capt. Elisha Bindul, assured the NEMA delegation in his office of the command’s commitment to disaster management.
Bindul said the command had also embarked on advocacy visits to various community leaders in Imo to sensitise them on disaster management.
He said the command also carried out rescue operations in various communities and also provided security to NEMA officials during emergencies.
“It is our legal responsibility to carry out rescue operations during emergency and to also collaborate with other stakeholders in mitigating disaster,” Bindul said.
He listed limited speed boats and life jackets, ambualances and mattresses as some of the challenges facing the command during interventions in disaster management.
He solicited the assistance of the agency in providing the necessary logistics to the command for a better proactive approach to disaster management.
He promised the command’s readiness to continue to partner with the agency in disaster management in the state.
Edited By: Sam Oditah
Cyber-security: CSCS chief, others say collaboration key
Mr Haruna Jalo-Waziri, Chief Executive Officer, Central Securities Clearing System (CSCS) Plc, says cyber-security is a collective effort, and everyone must play their roles to preserve the integrity and sanctity of the financial market.
He spoke on Monday at a webinar on “Cyber Security and Information During the Pandemic”, organised by the CSCS, Nigeria’s capital market infrastructure.
Financial market stakeholders, including bankers and capital market operators, shared ideas on innovative measures for preventing cybercrimes at the webinar.
Jalo-Waziri said that eradicating cybercrimes required collaborative effort.
According to him, the pandemic and its attendant remote connections occasioned by business continuity and work-from-home protocols have increased exposures to cyber-security risks.
He said that some businesses may also have suffered colossal losses due to cyber attacks since the pandemic.
“More than ever, cyber attacks are like a double whammy at this challenging time when businesses are re-strategising to adapt to the new normal and ensure sustainability,” he said.
Mr Femi Onifade, the Chief Strategy Officer, CSCS, said that a breach on a market operator’s system could inadvertently expose the entire system.
This, he said, reinforced why all must collaborate to prevent any vulnerabilities in the financial system.
He said that all participants and stakeholders must take active and effective measures in ensuring and sustaining cyber-resilience.
Mr Bharat Soni, Chief Information Security Officer, GTBank Plc, said the new work culture had expanded remote activities and cloud capabilities to an unprecedented level.
He said this had made businesses more vulnerable to cyber-attacks such as online scams and phishing, disruptive malware, malicious domains amongst others.
Soni said that due to this, the use of strong authentication for accessing networks would no longer be an option but a necessity.
According to Soni, awareness of the new realities of safe cyber practices needs to be communicated to employees, partners and customers.
He said this was necessary so that they could remain aware of the evolving cyber threat and how to best protect themselves and their organisations.
Mr Ikechukwu Ugoji, Chief Information Security Officer, Interswitch Limited, said that over 90 per cent of breaches were facilitated by phishing emails or social engineering attacks.
He said that every employee is a first-line of defence against incoming threats and employees must be made to understand their vital roles and responsibility in protecting the organization.
On his part, Mr Tobe Nnadozie, Divisional Head, Technology and Innovations, CSCS, noted that the pattern of spending on cyber-security showed that organisations were taking steps to protect their systems.
“Organisations are making relevant investments to protect their systems and broader market, albeit sadly, lack of vigilance is the leading cause of breaches,” he said.
The attendees lauded the timeliness of the webinar, as COVID-19 pandemic and the attendant remote connections may have increased cyber-security risks in many organisations.
Edited By: Tayo Ikujuni/Oluwole Sogunle