By Gbenga Odunsi, Lagos
With the rapid spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria and its enfeebling effects on Nigerians, the Buhari-led administration and the Lagos state government have rolled out new safety guidelines for Lagos residents and businesses.
Prohibition of gatherings that exceed 20 persons; compulsory use of face mask; dusk to dawn curfew, among others are major aspects of approach by Lagos State government to contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
But, many Lagosians have continued to defy the state directives. In separate interviews with Information Nigeria, some Lagosians dismissed the reality of the virus. Their reason, it was gathered, was that they do not know anyone, friends or relatives who have contracted the deadly virus.
“I have been hearing of coronavirus, but I have not seen any patient affected by the virus. We hear it is a virus that kills but they have not shown us any patient. So, to me, I don’t think coronavirus exists in Nigeria,” says doubtful Mrs Ogbonnaya Chinelo, a trader at Surulere local government area of Lagos state.
Another resident, Aigbe Miracle, a female trader in her late 20s, said, “all I know is that it is a virus that kills people but I am not sure if coronavirus is in our country because I have not seen people this virus has killed.”
Edet Asuquo, a driver, says he doesn’t know anything about coronavirus because he doesn’t know anyone infected with the virus. He concluded by saying, “for our own side na hungry dey catch us o.”
Information Nigeria recalls that media mongul, Chief Raymond Dokpesi penultimate week made a comment on the existence of COVID-19 in Nigeria. Dokpesi and his family members had earlier tested positive for COVID-19.
But after he was treated and discharged, Dokpesi says he is a bit confused, asking the difference between malaria and coronavirus.
“I still have doubts in my mind and I need to be educated. What’s the difference between COVID-19 and malaria? Every drug we were given were malaria medications.
“A number of persons who tested positive were checked in reputable labs, hospitals in Abuja and were found to have malaria parasites in their bloodstreams. When did malaria become synonymous with COVID-19?,” Dokpesi said.
As of May 17, Nigeria has over 5500 COVID-19 cases, with Lagos state topping the list with over 1700 cases. Over 1400 patients have been discharged while over 170 deaths have been recorded.
These figures, however, mean nothing to some Lagos residents who clearly distrust the Federal government’s claim of coronavirus in Nigeria.