By Maria Famakinwa
Despite warning from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) against the second wave of COVID-19 with the surge currently being witnessed in most European countries who are locking down to contain its further spread, most Nigerians seem not bothered as they continue to flout the guidelines for safety.
One of the rules to keep the pandemic at bay, according to NCDC, was the wearing of nose masks which falls under respiratory hygiene and has been described by experts as a piece of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that can prevent COVID-19, stop the spread of the virus, together with social distancing, regular hand washing and the use of hand sanitizer.
It is disturbing that citizens now go about their normal activities breaching several COVID-19 protocols, including maintenance of physical distancing. Both Nigerians and the government appear to be lax about adhering and enforcing COVID-19 safety rules. Wearing of nose masks which was embraced by the masses early this year has since been forgotten, few seen with face masks worn below the nose except in banks where customers were forced to use nose masks.
The Director-General, Nigeria Infectious Disease Agency, Mr Chikwe Ihekweazu, said that a second wave of coronavirus was inevitable if citizens failed to adhere to measures put in place to contain the viral pandemic. Also, the Nigerian Medical Association and Virologists warned that Nigeria could witness another coronavirus surge due to non- compliance to safety rules with school resumption.
The Hope spoke with some residents of Akure, Ondo State capital on why they refused to wear nose masks. According to a trader at Oja -Oba market, Mrs Romoke Aina, said, “We only read reported numbers of COVID-19 victims but we have not seen anyone who had the virus. If at all there is COVID-19 in the country, it is most likely gone and defeated. Nigerians are no more interested in the figures of coronavirus anymore, because it is assumed that the numbers were inflated,” she said.
Sharing a similar sentiment, a commercial driver, Mr Bolaji Ileyemi, believes that the pandemic may have been a hype. “Though we heard that there is still COVID-19 in the country, we do not believe it is true. Many like me have come to the conclusion that the pandemic is not as deadly as we were made to believe. That is why most people are tired of using nose masks.”
When asked if he now engages in hand shakes, he answered in the affirmative and revealed that people now shake hands and hug their loved ones. His words, “The idea of wearing nose masks is alien to us. Nigerians are not used to covering their faces and staying apart from one another. That is why they find it difficult to obey NCDC protocols. Even if COVID-19 is real, we need time to get used to the social distancing and wearing of face masks protocols.”
In the submission of a teacher, who simply gave his name as Mr Kola, on why he was not using a nose mask hinted that coronavirus was a scam. “There is nothing like coronavirus, our weather is too hot for the virus to survive. All the news about the virus is a way to create panic in people’s minds while the government keep making money from World Health Organisations(WHO)”.
When reminded that some prominent Nigerians have died of COVID-19, he argued that they died due to other ailments and not coronavirus per se. He said, “If coronavirus is real, going by the figures declared, 80 per cent of Nigerians would have died. It is just a way the government is siphoning W.H.O. funds is it not funny, that If someone complains of headache, cold or malaria, they added the number to coronavirus patients. We are all living witnesses to how some people who did not contract coronavirus were forced to live in isolation centres. These government antics discourage citizens from using nose masks because they believe government is not sincere.”
Another civil servant who pleaded anonymity explained that people’s refusal to use nose masks was due to lack of enforcement on the part of the government. He added that he always has his nose mask in his pocket but may not put it on because government is not compelling people to wear it. “Most people believe that the virus is no longer a threat, as they go about their daily business without being sick. If you go to offices, you will see that nobody is wearing a nose mask, including visitors. Although, notices are pasted there, how many people are still observing the protocols? Not even those who are selling nose masks.
“There are others who argue that nose masks are not effective to fight coronavirus. To them, if nose masks were effective, why did people die despite wearing of nose masks?. The whole issue is confusing because wearing of nose masks for long can prevent one from getting required oxygen which is also harmful to one’s health.”
A lady, Omolara, who was sighted selling nose masks at the entrance of a bank in Akure but not wearing one was asked why she refused to use a nose mask despite selling to customers. She said that she just removed her nose mask to get fresh air because she was advised that it was dangerous to wear a nose masks for long.”