ColumnsDon OkoloHow Nigeria Can Access Post COVID-19 and the New Normal

The fact is, COVID-19 apparently has come to stay, and frankly, there may be no such thing as post-COVID-19 except to the extent that we are prepared to create new reality moving on, notwithstanding. The latest events from South Korea leaves indelible lessons on how post-COVID-19 may likely be created. South Korea is one of the leading lights in the fight against COVID-19 and among the first countries to reopen after swift repression of the deadly virus. But now back to some basics, just once again.

In February, South Korea had the second-largest case of confirmed infection in the whole world, although with less than three hundred deaths, however, with the maximum competent deployment of technology, medical efficiency, and infrastructure, it was able to quickly contain the virus. Therefore, South Korea seems to be leading the world on experiential grounds for the how-to question, moving on, both providing a template and footpath for the rest of the world. First, the country showed how rapid testing can be used to immediately take control of the virus spreading capability, and next, the country is showing how countries can open up again. But then, as it relaxes lockdown and opened, a few days later report of new outbreak forced the country’s authorities to order shutdown of bars and clubs in capital Seoul.

Earlier while announcing the relaxing of some of their strict physical distancing and lockdown measures mid-last week, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun warned that “we are not at the stage where we can relax”. Quite prophetically, that admonition proved to be true on Saturday. Similarly, the European giant Germany with one of the best rates of success in controlling the deadly virus also recorded surge in virus infection after they reopened last week. In effect, there is a lot of caution as well as trial and error. Without belaboring the obvious, these approaches are not sustainable. Yet they leave us with some traces and figment of hope. While the whole world frantically searches and await a cure for the deadly virus, life ought to go on but never as before and this is a major takeaway from South Korea.

As of today, there are over four thousand and three hundred infections in Nigeria and it appears plausible that by the end of the week, Nigeria may record up to ten thousand infections.

For the avoidance of doubt, the new normal or post COVID-19 is nothing less of what we have been able to create from experiences gathered during the pandemic. As of today, there are over four thousand and three hundred infections in Nigeria and it appears plausible that by the end of the week, Nigeria may record up to ten thousand infections. The Lagos State Commissioner for Health has projected that infection will peak at about one hundred and twenty thousand cases. The death rate is also inching coming up with over a hundred and forty deaths so far. When we factor infrastructure deficiency and the fact that many infected persons are reported to have escaped from isolation centers, there are serious concerns and uncertainly in the days ahead.

However, with lessons from South Korea, we can make some reasonable assertions that individuals must reduce interface with the crowd, and we must avoid public places except when absolutely necessary. Generally, Nigerians often have reasons and occasions for which to converge in large numbers. Many of us cannot attend Churches with a small membership. For most of our organizations, workers must be physically present in the office before it is deemed that they are working. In our educational institutions, both students and lecturers must be present in school and in the classroom before it is judged that teaching and learning have taken place. This is to the extent that Nigeria’s National Open University which promotes virtual learning still has lots of contacts between students and lecturers. It is not surprising that education is comprehensively halted in Nigeria, conceivably one of the worst-hit sectors by COVID-19 in Nigeria.

It is not surprising that education is comprehensively halted in Nigeria, conceivably one of the worst-hit sectors by COVID-19 in Nigeria.

For most Nigerian businesses, once the market is closed, business is uniformly closed. In fact, the mantra is no market any business. Even the government is also not off the hook as it appears it cannot do without having people in the office before, they are said to have worked. These old attitudes are the major problem with moving on from COVID-19. People still want to resume work and gather in large crowds and go to the market where there is absolutely nothing like social distancing much less physical distancing.

People want churches to open again, even those mega churches with hundreds and in some cases thousands of worshippers cramped under a roof. People still feel it’s okay to gather in bars and clubs for their socials. In banks, people still gather in large numbers with no recourse at all to social distancing. These attitudes and choices are not compactable with a new normal and with those; we can only continue to go forth and back. Reopen today, them lockdown a few weeks after. Lockdown has been relaxed almost throughout Nigeria, unfortunately, in less than one week of relaxing lockdown, Lagos state government and the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 warned that another lockdown is imminent. But, aside from these government orders, what else?

The people are the ones who decide the pace at which we move into the new normal, where we can have good and healthy lives regardless of the deadly virus. Envisioning post-COVID-19 with workers still running around every morning rushing to work as before is not in tandem with what the new reality suggests. We must accept that it is totally okay for workers in corporate organizations to work remotely with only a few core staff coming to office, on a rotational basis. Organizations must restructure along the same line. For weddings and burials, we must accept that it is completely okay for just a few people to attend a wedding or burial ceremony quietly with no robust fanfare or elaborate displays, which characterize the old order. Let only a few people grace the occasion, do the needful, and disperse. We can accept that it is normal to have our socials in smaller groups of a few persons and still be happy. And that our church can remain nothing short of spectacular in smaller groups.

Many people are assuming the new normal commences from when the virus disappears or when there is a certified cure. On the contrary, the new normal has to do with how we respond to COVID-19, moving forward. It is essentially a deliberate and necessary adjustment of the normal we are used to, so that we can move on with little dire consequences. For businesses, shops can be moved with goods and services to the virtual space and operate fully online. Already there are online-based marketplaces where people can buy and sell. Any measure that limits contact with too many people needlessly must be encouraged to reduce the chances of the crowd and eliminate any possibility of violent infection of coronavirus. Travels must also be reduced to the minimally essential, otherwise, consider ways to address the purpose for such travel over a video call. Simply put, moving on requires us to make some tough decisions and adjust to the new reality, relying mostly on available information and communication technologies.

Post COVID-19 or the new normal is not some make-belief, neither an event that’s going to happen at a set time in the future. Instead, it is an application of the lessons so far learned to create a new reality that is conducive to the times, where we live with little fear and danger of coronavirus infection and disruption.

Follow us

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

WP2Social Auto Publish Powered By :