Chikwe Ihekweazu, the director-general of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), says Nigeria and the rest of the world would not return to normalcy until next year — at the very least.
Speaking at the 24th edition of The Platform, hosted by Poju Oyemade’s Covenant Nation, the NCDC boss said the short term pains are sacrifices Nigerians must make for a safer long term.
When asked how soon Nigeria would return to normalcy — away from wearing masks and social distancing and the rest of the COVID-19 precautions, Ihekweazu said: “for the next year”.
“We are faced with a difficult reality and we are not unique in this, every country is right now looking at the same challenge and how to get us back to some level of normalcy, but the reality is that we are going to live with COVID-19 for the next year at the very least,” he said
“So we have to start thinking about how to live safely with COVID-19, and you know some of the changes we would have to make are actually good things to have forever.
“The emphasis on handwashing, sanitisers, respiratory hygiene; my goal as the leader of the NCDC is that we continue this forever.
“That we don’t go back like we did post-Ebola to an era of not washing our hand, not only will they prevent COVID but they will prevent so many other diseases from spreading, ultimately leading us into a better future”.
The epidemiologist and public health physician said he would want that people connect more intensely using technology, but maintain necessary physical distance.
“The thing about mass gathering, it will be a big challenge for us, but we have to try. Every business, every church… every religious gathering of any form, social gatherings, weddings, we really have to rethink how we do this in the short term.
“Its a sacrifice we would have to make as a people, as a country, to get over this. It will be a challenging time, but this is a sacrifice we would have to pay — we are not alone in this, even the countries we looked up to are facing the same challenges, there is no easy solution.
“Now is a time to build our country despite limitations and find indigenous ways to solve this problem, and make our country recover quicker. To do that, we need this short term pain in order to gain the long term opportunity to return to normal socially rich life Nigerians are known for”
“If there is one great thing that would come out of this, it is that we reinforce our personal hygiene”.
Nigeria has recorded 2170 cases of COVID-19, with 351 recoveries and 68 deaths as of Saturday morning.