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A Survivor’s Note: What do we know about the COVID-19 pandemic? Asks Doyin Okupe

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The latest Nigerian COVID-19 figure is 23,000 plus. The rate of new cases averages 500 per day. By the end of July, we may reach 40,000 plus officially nationwide.

NCDC may wish to admit or play the ostrich and dismiss the fact. The truth is unofficial figures are close to 300% of publicised figures. Many Nigerians are self isolating and engaging in self help. Some do so because of stigmatisation; others, just being afraid of leaving their comfort zones for isolation centers.

Whatever is the case, affected persons are increasing, while available spaces in isolation centres nationwide are depleting rapidly. Frontline health workers are increasingly becoming disgruntled, frustrated and less enthusiastic. Funding at state and federal levels is decreasing. Members of the society, at large, are becoming agitated, uncooperative and disenchanted. Yet affected numbers are increasing astronomically and exponentially.

WHAT CAN WE DO?

More lockdown? Personally, I will say NO. This may lead to a precipitous crisis that we may not be able to handle.

I seriously think that we need to come to terms with the existence of this virus and devise safer means of living and coping with it.

Firstly, Nigeria is a youthful population. Most young people will pass through the viral attack with very mild symptoms lasting very brief periods, 2 to 3days with or without treatment. A large percentage of reported and unreported cases of malaria today may actually be due to a COVID-19 coronavirus infection. The symptoms present similarly and in many cases attacks those with strong immune competence. In such cases, treatment for malaria is often sufficient. Moreover, it is difficult to prove scientifically that it is the treatment that cured the attack or that it is a natural course of the disease in this class of people.

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Therefore, our problems will be with the aged, 60 and above, and those with existing comorbidities.

Government must take a quick decision on trending drugs that are gaining traction in their efficacy to treat or prevent COVID-19 infections for this class of people. Joining the international commercial or political narrative, from which we benefit nothing, at the expense of the lives of millions of our breadwinners, is unjustifiable and simply callous and evil.

Thirdly, our isolation centres must now be reserved mostly for severe symptomatic cases ONLY. And the doctors managing them must now of necessity be broadened to include experienced specialists in endocrinology, cardiology, nephrology, and oncology who are able to promptly and effectively treat these comorbidities so as to enhance the survival rate of this class of patients. The new addition of Dexamethasone should be liberally available to all severe cases especially those with signs of early Respiratory Distress Syndrome. Recourse to the use of invasive ventilators is now being reviewed globally as alternative oxygen generators are now being largely favoured.

The ultimate victory lies in the hands of the populace to behave responsibly and not convert ourselves to accomplices to the murder of our loved ones, friends and relations.

There must be government commitment, boldness and courage to think out of the box. If I were the President, I will opt for a scientifically proven and efficacious prophylactic drug protocol to be made available to all Nigerians. In the absence of a vaccine, I will rather risk the use of such prophylactic drugs for three months instead of locking down the country or any part thereof for another three weeks.

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THE LOGIC IS SIMPLE. STOP COMMUNAL TRANSMISSION AND THE VIRUS, NOT NIGERIANS, IS DEAD!

*Doyin Okupe, a medical practitioner and politician, is a COVID-19 coronavirus survivor.

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