Nigeria’s response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has caught the attention of United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, who described it as remarkable.
Speaking during a virtual news briefing in New York on Friday, Mr Guterres singled out Nigeria as one of few developing countries that have shown a remarkable capacity to respond.
“I have to say that some of these developing countries have shown remarkable capacity to respond.“I was quite impressed to see, for instance, Nigeria putting in place immediately in a stadium, a hospital.
“And I saw difficulties in countries that are much more developed to do quickly the same. “So, there are efforts done by countries in the developing world that we should point to because they represent a very strong determination.
“But the resources available are, of course, insufficient, and the health services are usually extremely out of proportion with the needs of a pandemic like this,” Mr. Guterres said.
Guterres spoke in response to a question that sought his opinion on early confinement measures by some countries with fragile health systems to check the spread of the virus. He was referring to the conversion of the Mobolaji Olufunsho Johnson Stadium in Onikan, Lagos, by the state government to a 101-bed isolation centre for patients.
There are currently 210 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nigeria with Lagos State still toping the chart with the highest number of cases. 25 patients recovered and discharged and 4 deaths according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
There had also been a massive response at the national level, including the setting up of a Presidential Task Force to control the virus in the country, with the first case announced on February 28.
Among other measures, Nigeria's president, Mr Muhammadu Buhari on March 18 imposed a travel ban on 13 countries with high cases of the virus.
Buhari on Sunday, March 29, directed a lockdown on the Federal Capital Territory, Lagos and Ogun states, while the NCDC is boosting its testing and contact tracing capacity.
Several state governments in the country including Delta that has yet to record any case of the virus had imposed movement restrictions, among other preventive measures.
Underscoring the importance of prevention, the Guterres stressed that COVID-19 “is a pandemic that must be fought from the very beginning, even before it enters a country.
“To act early rather than later is absolutely essential, because only by acting early we will be able to contain and suppress the disease, and avoid the dramatic economic and social consequences that we are witnessing in so many parts of the world.
“This is particularly true in the developing world, and this is why I’ve been asking for massive support both in the health area and in the economic and social area, from the developed countries and from international financial institutions to the developing countries,’’ he said.
Guterres however, appealed to countries with effective testing, contact tracing and quarantine mechanisms in place to “do much less restrictions of movement and of separation of people.”