On Sunday, March 22, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) announced 36 confirmed cases of Coronavirus in Nigeria and one death. Ifeoluwa Ogunbufunmi examines the impact and Nigeria’s response.
The world has watched earnestly, the quick rate of the coronavirus spread, and unfortunately, Nigeria has not been left out. In less than a week, the number has risen from three to 36 confirmed cases in the country.
The federal government and several state governments have circulated new policies in urgent response to the pandemic. The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has placed immediate restrictions on all international flights into Nigeria, with the exception of emergency and essential flights.
All airlines are required to submit passenger manifests to the Port Health Authorities prior to the arrival of any essential and emergency flights into the country. The Federal Government of Nigeria has also temporarily suspended the issuance of visas-on-arrival.
The Lagos State Government has announced the closure of all public and private schools as well as tertiary institutions to safeguard the lives of school children. The State Government has also banned public gathering of more than 20 people, nullifying the previous limit of 50 people. This ban impacts the gatherings in religious institutions, social events, hotels, companies and organisations, among many others.
Lagos State has also ordered public officers in the entire unified public service, from Grade 1 to 12, to stay at home for 14 days, as part of the precautions to curb the virus’s spread. The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-olu reiterated that this stay-at-home order does not affect any of the State’s first responders, including the Fire Service and Emergency Management Agency.
All this has left business owners genuinely concerned about their revenue and even survival. Economic activities across the country have been heavily hit.
Amaka Titilayo Ogujiofor, founder and chief executive of Spread Errands ‘n’ Delivery, an on-demand delivery service in Lagos, said the drastic reduction in business sales had had a consequent reduction in the patronage of delivery companies like hers.
“Most of my clients, who are small business owners, have had to temporarily shut down their businesses as purchases round the country seem to be limited to only necessities and essentials.”
“My staff salaries are also on the line. If there are no delivery jobs, I am not certain how to make up their salaries. It is so tough right now. Spread Movers, which is my van-delivery service company that handles cake and pastry deliveries, furniture deliveries and bulk food deliveries, has also been majorly affected. We provide logistics support for a lot of event vendors, who have cancelled or postponed events based on their clients’ requests. I have had to make payment refunds. I honestly cannot wait for economic activities to return to normal.”
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