COVID-19: Let us listen to science and scientists
For a while, many Africans were hopeful that Africa could be spared from the pain of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, named SARS-CoV-2. But it does not seem like that will happen – as cases of COVID-19 have now spread across 46 out of 54 countries on the continent.
Hence, many low- and middle-income countries that are now seeing the arrival of the pandemic, including Nigeria are facing grim decisions. For instance, Nigeria`s health systems are much too weak to handle an explosion of COVID-19, consequently the government recently announced a 2-weeks lockdown in three states in Nigeria including Abuja, Ogun, and Lagos – the epicenter of the disease – as part of efforts to curb the spread of the disease and flatten the curve of the infection.
However, following the imposition of lockdown across states in the Nigeria, some people believe that such measures will do more harm than good.
To defeat the coronavirus pandemic, we must make the right decisions informed by science, even though they might tough. The guidelines as adopted by WHO are standard measures in the fight against the novel coronavirus. These measures are aimed at breaking the viral transmission chain of infection. A chain of transmission refers to a path that a pathogen (virus) takes to enter the human system and can be transmitted from an individual to another.
Some of the critical steps to know about viral transmission are:
1. The infection agent (e.g. COVID-19)
2. Reservoir of the infection agent (e.g. human)
3. Point of exit (e.g. mouth)
4. Mode of transmission (e.g. droplets)
5. Point of entry (mouth, nose)
6. Susceptible host
To prevent the spread of diseases, these chains need to be broken in order to help slow down the spread of it -- including COVID-19. By breaking either of these chains the virus is stopped on its track thereby limiting spread of the virus, flatten the curve and saving more lives. Achieving this will be a huge gain for us in the fight against COVID-19.
Hence, Nigerians must adopt some critical behavioral changes such as physical distancing and staying at home as directed by scientists and medical professionals which will serve as chain breakers in the disease transmission.
These chain breakers include:
1. By practicing good hand hygiene (e.g. regular washing of hands with soap)
2. By observing coughing and sneezing etiquette (covering mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. And safely dispose the used tissue immediately)
3. By using personal protective equipment (e.g. gloves, N95 mask)
4. By cleaning and disinfecting our environment (e.g. 70% alcohol or hypochlorite)
5. By practicing physical distancing (e.g. cancel all meetings, conferences, religious gathering, keeping safe distance at least 2 metres).
Our collective positive actions could save lives, lockdown is not lockout. Let’s break the chain and stop the spread of COVID-19!
Aminu Raphael is a PhD student at the Department of Biochemistry, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria-Nigeria.
International Scientific Forum on Home Hygiene, 2012. www.ifh.homehygiene.org
WHO 2001. Infections and infectious diseases. A manual for Nurses and Midwives in the WHO European Region