BREAKING: Why Universities, Poly and Others Must Resume September - NCDC Report

Why Schools Must Resume September - NCDC Report: September daily reports on coronvirus infected persons in Nigeria dropped by 80% which shows that all schools are ready to reopen.

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On the face of it, about 54,463 people infected so far by the covid-19 pandemic in a population of 200 million people, would suggest that our country is not exactly in the cross hairs of the virus.
Going by this number relative to our population, ours must be  one of the least affected countries in the world.
All things being equal, we could rely on that number and move from the red worry zone into the amber zone of less worry.
Let us hasten slowly. Numbers do not usually tell the whole story.
It would be unrealistic to allow ourselves to be lulled into a false sense of comfort that the virus poses limited danger no greater than malaria.
African power has not caged the virus.
The September 2 report by the NCDC shows that the rate of infections has not flattened out.
But the number of those who have been pulled out of the jaws of death is encouraging.
According to NCDC, 42,439 had been discharged as of September 2. Sadly, 1,027 others could not make it back home from the isolation centres.
NCDC is doing a commendable job of not only testing and treating the patients but keeping us duly informed of what is going on a daily basis.
Fifteen states reported a total of 216 new cases on September 2. Plateau State, according to NCDC report for the last one week, has become the epicentre of the virus.
In the latest report it retained its number one position ahead of Lagos and the FCT with 59 cases.
That is not particularly alarming.
What is worrisome is that the virus infection has maintained a steady rise even if the rate is numbered in hundreds rather than in thousands as in other countries.
Two facts suggest that the daily rate of infections does not tell the true story about the level of the pandemic infections in our country.
One, testing is still limited.
The NCDC has itself said so.
No one has ever been tested in Kogi State because governor Yahaya Bello maintains his foolish stance that the virus has steered clear of his state – and the federal authorities would not force him to take steps like other state governors to help save his own people.
Well, he would not need them for his re-election any more.
The real challenge is that most of the states do not have test kits; samples are mostly taken and sent to Abuja for analysis.
I am told that it takes about two weeks for the results to be sent back to the states.
It is possible that the infected persons could succumb to the virus before their results are known.
It seems that the reported spike in infection cases in Plateau might be linked to more testing now going on in the state; an indication that the states reporting low figures are not necessarily better off than those reporting consistently higher figures. It is a bit of a messy situation.
Two, the limited tests are limited to the urban areas.
No significant attempts have been made so far by the authorities to see what is happening in the rural areas, home to the bulk of our population.
People in the rural areas take no precautionary measures against the virus.
They do not wear face masks and generally believe that the pandemic is a township disease. It is of no concern to them.
The governments are partly to blame.
At the early stage when the virus reached our shores, there were a fitful attempts to sensitize the people to this dangerous health challenge.
Much of that effort has fallen short, thus allowing individuals to decide whether or not to take the prescribed precautions seriously.
It is important to make sensitization an on-going process so people can take the prescribed precautions more seriously and help to protect themselves and their communities.
This brings us to the inevitability of the state governments caving in under pressure to re-open schools and places of worship.
Several state governments have decided to re-open schools from about the middle of this month.
We can understand that.
The children are tired of staying at home.
Their parents too are tired of their staying at home and are anxious to see them return to school. Pressure is the word.
Keeping the children out of school indefinitely is itself a big challenge for the governments and the parents.
Sadly, there is no middle ground here.
It is either the schools remain shut or they are re-opened.
There is a price to pay for either option.
The presidential task force headed by the SGF, Boss Mustapha, is worried about this because the decision to re-open the schools was not based on evidence that the virus is in retreat and the children would be safe in the classrooms.
Mustapha has cautioned the state governors to hasten slowly and ensure that they take proper precautionary measures consistent with the guidelines issued by the task force.
We don’t just face a potential danger here; we face real danger if we, by an act of omission or commission, expose our young children to the possibility of mass infections in the schools.
Young people hate social distancing.
Perhaps this is why the university teachers choose to side with caution.
They have advised the federal and state governments against re-opening the universities.
They too are feeling the trauma of prolonged idleness.
However you see it, there is no easy option for the federal and state governments.
It seems to me that the state governments decided to take the plunge and then see what happens because the problem could be the fear of the virus rather than the virus itself.
Two steps must be taken urgently.
The first is for the state governments to make the test kits available to all schools and colleges and ensure that every child is screened and tested before he is allowed into the classroom.
This is not likely to be easy.
The test kits are in short supply in the country at the moment.
The states would likely do the next best thing – cut corners.
That would amount to hiding the truth in plain sight.
The second step is for the state governments provide face masks in all the schools.
The teachers would take the responsibility of ensuring that the children wear them.
Saving lives has never been an easy task for governments but it is a burden they must carry and it is a burden they must discharge.
I offer them my sympathy.

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