Coronavirus disease also known as COVID-19 which has now achieved pandemic status is a novel disease that surreptitiously emerged at the end of 2019, began threatening health and lives of millions of people the world over.
Highly contagious in transmission, with possibility of causing severe respiratory disease, sour throat, excruciating headache/heart pains, painful joints, lost of appetite, hallucinations, cough, in rare cases running nose, these are just but most of the symptoms coronavirus patients faced as they battle for survival with the worldwide infected virus.
Although some patients gradually develop clear symptoms, others are asymptomatic which becomes imperative for the masses to adhere strictly with provided guidelines to prevent viral contagion and limit the outbreak, as nations and States gradually ease its lockdown and stay at home order.
Needless to say, this pandemic has quickly impacted on individual businesses- especially artisans, Governments and public health systems, and the world economy in particular.
As respective Governments at all levels have taken over the responsibility of catering and putting in place needed measures for treating confirmed patients, patients with suspected infection, quarantined family members, and health care workers, it also behooves on the non infected persons to uphold strictly to precautionary measures to stem the tide of the common enemy of man – Coronavirus, as they enjoy partial lockdown order, especially in Akwa Ibom State.
As expected, it is obvious compliance with directives and instructed regimen is a longstanding and known problem in human race, because for reasons yet to be ascertained, people routinely are not willing to do what is good for them and refuse to cease behaviour that is bad for them, that is the nature of man, slow in adaptation to new behavioural and attitudinal patterns but rigid in familiar practices.
The same pattern of behaviour of man has again been exhibited as it relates to COVID-19 restrictions as constituted in Akwa Ibom State within the Uyo, metropolis, major cities and even in the suburbs.
Just as people refuse to exercise, continue to smoke, consume sugary drinks and even sometimes reject taking prescribed and required medications, so has a greater percentage of Akwa Ibomites and other settlers have been testing the boundaries of Government instructions, and many have bluntly refused to comply based on self complacency, “COVID-19 is a sickness of the elites with fat banks account balance”, what a way to toil with ones precious life!
As far as some persons continue emitting such behaviour in this COVID-19 regime, they place others at serious risk, it represents an alarming threat to the State and security of lives.
In the last one week, since the relaxation of total lockdown in Akwa Ibom State as announced by the State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel in a live broadcast message, which commenced on Monday May 4, 2020, despite Government’s emphasis on compulsory use of face mask in public places, use of alcohol based hand sanitizers and the practicing social distancing, these guidelines seem to have fallen on deaf ears as majority of persons in public places still behave as if there is no killer disease in the State.
Presently, two most accessible public places ; banks and markets are worse case scenarios as a good number of customers, service providers, buyers and sellers exhibit minimal compliance with constituted guidelines, although some commercial drivers and passengers have displayed some level of compliance, who knows, this might be in a bid to avert running into trouble waters with security operatives at check points.
Worrisome is the fact that although Akwa State Government has declared Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays as market days in a week commencing from 10:00hrs to 4 PM, with compliance to preventive guidelines at Akpan Andem, a major market within Uyo metropolis and its counterpart at the suburb, Itam Market, are still running their full course, customers move round freely and extended pleasantries, losing sight of the nature of transmission of this respiratory pandemic.
Even though social distancing may as a matter of fact looks less rigid, it appears to be the most difficult guideline to follow and monitor, it relies on goodwill of individuals to comply and see/respect the need to comply if the State must be well again.
This is a conscious need for transiting from the routine familiar pattern of social behaviour of collectivism to individualism, although some are quick to adjust, others may require more time why the doubting thomases are still refusing.
These refusers are commonly found at the rural markets and other public domains at the outskirts. They are group of persons as seen in public places who pose serious threat to the wellbeing of others. While some of them are oppositional in attitude, others in the category are out rightly intentionally violating guidelines with self consolation, “it is not my portion”.
Deniers are seen moving about with their normal businesses and their personality and social identity is central to their daily functioning. In other to combat this pandemic and send it parking earlier enough from our State, it demands everyone standing up to the common enemy, COVID-19.
Citizens should see the need of maintaining personal hygiene and strict adherence to preventive measures. It will be imperative for Government while putting in place isolation centres to also utilise every means of communication unique to all audiences in re-orienting the masses, especially the market women and other traders.
A visit to the popular sea food market also known as Ifiayong market in Uruan Local Government Area reveals lack of awareness to what is and what is not coronavirus and its dangerous effect to humanity and the State’s economy.
A glance at the market from a distance last saturday unveiled an over crowded population of buyers and sellers who had no business with social distancing nor that of face mask, bank customer are in this league, especially the ATM users.
Now, questions calling for answers are; was Governor Udom Emmanuel too quick to have relaxed the lockdown order? Should the State re-embark on a fresh total lockdown with firm penalties for defaulters? or do we allow a few persons to risk out their lives while the State economy reverberates? What is the way forward even as the number of COVID-19 patients keep increasing as the days passed by?
However, with the ongoing trend, need to accept that the probability of behavioural management of the public may not be totally successful is eminent. Thus, relocking for a few more works or putting in place energetic implementation task force for appropriate compliance may prove to be central in reducing mortality and morbidity of the population in this protracted battle against this unseen enemy hiding in a friendly population.
Providing reliable and dependable information is a major tool in ensuring compliance with COVID-19 guidelines. The public needs to be frequently reminded in the media and repetition of key points – handwashing, social distancing, atleast 2-meter, compulsory use of face mask in public places etc., this will improve compliance.
It is more safe to stay at home in this critical moment when necessary, and if one must find his/herself in public domain, precautionary measures must be followed to the later. Coronavirus is deadly, COVID-19 is real, the pandemic for now has no cure, although it is not a dead sentence in most cases, stay safe. Akwa Ibomites -help yourself to help others.
Don’t spread the virus, spread the preventive measures and comply accordingly.