by Kevin Davids
Nigeria successfully managed an Ebola outbreak, but COVID-19 is a very different matter.
Nigerian doctors in the capital, Abuja, have gone on strike, demanding two months’ back pay, despite the steady rise in coronavirus cases in the country.
The doctors said it was a difficult decision.
There have been a total of 12 confirmed coronavirus cases in Nigeria. The latest were four new cases were detected in Lagos State – Nigeria’s commercial capital. Two of those who tested positive had recently travelled to Europe, the others had not left the country.
Nigeria is tracing the contacts of all current cases. “We are following over 1,300 people right now to find information about the state of their health and the number is increasing,” said Lagos Commissioner for Health, Akin Abayomi.
Nigeria’s first case of Ebola in 2014 also came through Lagos airport, but an aggressive and coordinated response brought the outbreak under control. A new Lancet study suggests that may not be the case with COVID-19. It rates Nigeria as having only “moderate capacity” to control the outbreak – noting the lack of bed space and clinical care, among other problems – should coronavirus takes hold in a population of 200 million.
Nigeria has closed its borders to 13 countries, including the US and UK. But it’s a largely informal and trading economy, and business is expected to take a significant hit. As a result of tumbling oil prices, Nigeria is already considering cutting its $37 billion budget – passed only in December – by as much as 14 percent.