By; PAMELA EBOH, Awka
Coronavirus is a respiratory disease that affects the upper respiratory system and the lungs. As scary as this disease may sound, and the number of souls it has taken, even while still on the prowl, the residents of Awka, Anambra State capital appear to be at ease without much care to the deadliness of the pandemic.
The disease which started in the city of Wuhan in China like a regular breakout that comes and leaves overtime, turned out to be an unprecedented pandemic that overwhelmed the powerful nation and killed thousands of people.
Though China has anmounced a reduction in the number of cases, other gigantic countries like Spain, US, Italy, France, etc are still battling to contain the increasing number of cases in their country.
At the moment, no part of the world is safe from the firm, wicked grip of the disease. Even the world’s strongest, most feared nation’s of the world are on bended knees fighting the scourge. Nigeria, the largest country in Africa are not left out of the struggle as the nation recently recorded more than forty five confirmed cases of Covid-19.
Though, the cases are mostly in Lagos, there are fears that it may spread to other states of the federation.
For now, there is no recorded case of the disease in Anambra State, but, as a preventive measure, the state governor, Willie Obiano has identified measures to forestall spread. But, despite the measures put in place, residents have continued to flout the directives.
For instance, very few people are wearing the face mask and hand gloves. Social distancing is a far cry as people still cluster together, especially at banks and markets.
A trip to both UBA and Zenith bank along Ziks Avenue in Awka showed a crowd of people in close proximity to each other waiting to enter the banking hall.
While there was no distancing among them, only two people were seen wearing face mask and hand gloves.
Majority of the people were more focused on gettng into the banking hall for their transaction. Same thing was observed at zenith bank. At the ATM section of the banks, only few people observed social distancing, though without any mask or hand gloves.
Howerver, few used improvises like tissue, paper and stick to operate the machine. At the Eke Awka market, traders were busy with their business transactions without a care in the world.
Some were even making a mockery of a shopper that passed by with a face mask. One of the traders who spoke to our Correspondent said that the disease was a only fluke by white people and not a reality.
The trader who identified himself as Emeka Orji said, “I don’t know what Coronavirus is and I don’t believe it is real but if it is, I’m not worried, one thing must kill a man.
On her part, Mrs Alice Okaro said, “i dont know Coronavirus, it doesn’t know me either. My business cannot stop because of something I know nothing about, where do we feed from if I stay at home.”
Speaking on the pandemic, the former governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Mr Oseloka Obaze described the closure of public institutions and banning of public gatherings as salutory.
He regretted that the national medical response capacity is far from efficient and sufficient for the scope of unfolding public health emergency. He added, “When the crisis unfolds fully in weeks or months ahead, and the ripple-effects manifest, individuals and communities will inevitably turn to state governments, which at this juncture are mostly ill-prepared and ill-equipped to respond efficiently and robustly.
Meanwhile, some private and public enterprise unit have started applying preventive measures to forestall the spread.
They include super markets, pharmacies. Apart from wearing face masks and hand gloves, they have at the entrance of their shops running water in buckets, soap and hand sanitizers for customers’ use. KEKE and shuttle operators have on their part started adhering to the state government directives of carrying two and three passengers respectively. However, passengers are bearing the brunt of the cut in the capacity of passengers they each can carry.
A drop from Dike street to Udoka which before the durective costs N100 now costs N200 while a N50 drop has been pushed up to N100.
Also, prices of face masks have skyrocketed. A piece which before mow cost N200 has risen to N350 per piece while a small container of hand sanitizer has risen to N1200 from N600 .
Despite the surge in prices however, people who know its importance are jostling for it as some shops are already running out of stock. As at Wednesday, the mask was sold for N250 but it increased to N300 on Friday.
The pump bucket used by some shops for customers’ hand washing have also doubled the price to N1200, away from the known price if N700. With the 14-days market closure announced for Monday, panic buying has set in.
People are striving to fill their cart with necessary food items to forestall any eventualities. With the laisser-faire attitude of the people, there are fears that the presence of Covid-19 in Anambra State could spell doom for the people as it is a disease not written on the forehead, rather, a carrier can be asymptomatic for days and infect a large of number of people at that stage.
There is also the issue of lack of test centers in the state. The state government recently identified four hospitals in the state as isolation centers but it was gathered that while that of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Teaching Hospital, COOUTH, Awka has been in existence for the hospital use without any new touch up or new equipments.
That of Onitsha is still under construction. In the words of the Chief Medical Director, Dr Basil Nwankwo, “We have isolation wards. Four bedded isolation wards. It belongs to the hosital. we dont have any isolation centre by the state government here.”
A source at the General Hospital Onitsha who spoke on condition of anonymity said that the isolation center is still under construction at the moment.