With the resumption of schools across the country amid continued rise in the number of new COVID-19 cases, there are concerns that more people may die of the viral infection.
Already, experts fear that the impact of the Christmas holiday travels and gatherings and failure to observe non-pharmaceutical measures such as social distancing, wearing of face masks and regularly washing hands will make the pandemic worse in the coming weeks and months, thereby leading to more fatalities.
The new Director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, issued a very bleak warning about the coming days of the pandemic.
COVID-19 has already claimed the lives of almost 400,000 Americans, but in the next month alone, Walensky predicts another 100,000 people may die, bringing the total number to half a million.
“By the middle of February, we expect half a million deaths in this country. That doesn’t speak to the tens of thousands of people who are living with a yet uncharacterised syndrome after they’ve recovered.
“And we still yet haven’t seen the ramifications of what happened from the holiday travel, from holiday gathering, in terms of high rates of hospitalisations and the deaths thereafter. I think we still have some dark weeks ahead”, she said.
Back home in Nigeria, there are also fears that the country might witness dark weeks and months, with the reopening of schools, large religious gatherings and non observance of social distancing in public places.
The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire had, on Monday, raised the alarm over the rise in number of new COVID-19 cases in Nigeria, revealing that one out of every five persons tested in the last one week had turned out positive.
The minister, during the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 briefing, had said the country was deeply into the second wave.
“The number of new COVID-19 cases has continued to rise in Nigeria, such that we confirmed 10,300 cases from just 50,750 samples tested in one week, translating into 20 percent positivity rate.
“It means one out of every five persons tested in the last one week turned out positive, compared to the previous week which recorded a positivity rate of 14 percent.
“It is instructive of the second wave that all cases recorded so far this January is more than 20 percent of all confirmed cases in Nigeria, more than the whole of December, barely halfway through the month,” Ehanire said.
Speaking in an interview with PUNCH HealthWise , a Professor of Paediatrics at the College of Health Sciences, University of Ilorin, Aisha Gobir, said the shortage of toilets and hand washing facilities in schools will put students at serious risks of getting infected with COVID-19.
According to her, the consequences of re-opening schools in the absence of such basic facilities will be enormous, noting that the transmission of the virus is likely to be more as socialising occurs in the schools.
Prof. Gobir explained, “Our schools are low in the provision of toilet and hand washing facilities and are also crowded. These will increase cases. “Children are less likely to observe physical distancing and the use of face masks.
“They are likely to touch surfaces without caution.
“Perfect hand washing is not possible too. The transmission is likely to be more as mixing occurs in the schools. Also, these children will carry the virus home to the vulnerable group of elderly and those with associated diseases like diabetes.
“These are the people who are more likely to die. In short, the implications are increasing cases, increasing hospitalisations, crowding of isolation centres, exhaustion of health workers, more deaths from COVID-19.”
According to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, so far, Nigeria has recorded 112,004 COVID-19 infections with 89,939 recoveries and 1,449 deaths.
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