Hon. Ben Igbakpa, a representative of the Ethiope East and Ethiope West Federal Constituency of Delta State in the House of Representatives, has come out to talk about the coronavirus outbreak.
Ben believes Nigeria was very late in issuing travel ban on 13 highly affected countries and this has put us in a concerning state as more people are testing positive.
According to him, the country was not proactive enough in shutting our border but it is still a better late than never situation.
He added that the country cannot contain the spread since we do not have what it takes to make it happen, making it compulsory for us to stop more flights from coming in and continue treating our positive cases.
His words, “We didn’t act on time because when we had just one case, it was enough for us to have shut our borders, stopped flights coming into Nigeria because there were reports of persons leaving heavily affected countries for Nigeria. I think we didn’t act on time but it is always better late than never. We have taken the decision. We can see the way it has gone from one case to what we now have.
We have five cases today. But I think it is a step in the right direction though not taken on time. Again, I think it is time for Mr. President to talk to Nigerians. This will send a strong message. It will show commitment. He should at this stage talk to Nigerians. Once there is an issue and the C-in-C talks to the people, it shows the issue is serious. People will take it serious.
I know the Minister of Health has been doing quite a lot in conjunction with Lagos State government and the CDC but I believe it is time for Mr. President to speak to us having been armed with enough statistics globally to talk to our people.
The issue here now is that there is panic. People are afraid. Yes, it’s worth being afraid of but it is not a kind of death sentence from all we have heard. It is an ailment, very dangerous; yes, but I think our people need to know what exactly is happening. The rumour mill is doing a lot of harm.”
On if the country is well prepared for the virus, “We can’t contain it. We don’t have what it takes to contain it. That’s why I said we are acting too late. We are being reactive here. We ought to have taken precautions when it first happened and stop people from coming in. But now, we have allowed some persons. They are already with us. We allowed them. They are in. The number is growing by the day.
For every flight that brings in one person that is infected, you know the number of persons that will come in contact with the person! But like I said, it is not that bad. Since we don’t have what it takes to contain it, the best way is to prevent them from coming in. Those ones that are in with us, we pray God to help us.
But from all that we have seen, we are only being lucky. Nigeria is a very lucky nation. We are a nation very close to the heart of God that when things happen, God always gives us that cover. Just like what happened in the Ebola case, I believe it should just end this way. Thank God we have not really lost anybody, not because our medical practitioners are good or that we have the expertise to deal with it. Like in some places, in the US now, testing is a matter of few hours. Here, testing still takes days.
I read about the Enugu case where a mother was quarantined and before the result could come to show that the result was negative, the woman had died and nobody is talking about the woman. The daughter now had to write on the social media; yes, she is not asking for compensation but that the Nigerian government and the Enugu State government should do what is right, put the necessary infrastructures in place so that what happened to her mother will not happen to others.
So, I think we should be proactive. We don’t allow things to happen before we start jumping around. The coronavirus issue came up some weeks ago. Even the United States of America didn’t take it serious because I remember President Trump saying that nobody will die in America but, today, they have lost over one hundred. But let’s look at the population. We are talking about Iran. Iran has a huge population.
They have lost a few percentage of it. Is it Italy? They have lost not less than one thousand. China, they have equally lost thousands. So, they have people but one death means a lot to a family that is losing the person. So, we are lucky in Nigeria that we have not recorded any death. Our government needs to wake up very fast and take precaution which is what Mr. President has done today by closing our borders.
I think our people should heed the advice. This is not time to pursue money and bring problems to the country. Whatever business you are doing, whatever journey that is unnecessary, shelve it. We are asking for two weeks, one month, I pray and I believe that everything will be fine so that people can live their normal lives.”