If the data released by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, on the 20 Local Government Areas, LGAs, responsible for the highest cases of COVID-19 in Nigeria is as it is reported , then the popular saying that COVID-19 is a sickness of the affluent is far behind the truth.
The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, PTF had in June , declared some 20 local government areas in the country as high risk zones, having accounted for 60 percent of COVID-19 in the country.
The PTF also hinted on an impending total lockdown in the affected LGAs.
Out of these 20, Lagos alone share 11 LGAs whereas Lagos its entirety has 20 LGAs.
The 11 LGAS identified as high risk zones in Lagos as at June included : Mushin (458 cases), Eti-Osa (403 cases), Alimosho (239 cases), Kosofe (175 cases), Ikeja (168 cases), Oshodi/Isolo (132 cases), Apapa (131 cases), Amuwo Odofin (129 cases), Lagos Island (111), and Surulere (110 cases).
All of the 11 LGAs are in Lagos Mainland, predominantly occupied by those at the lower and lowest rung of the social ladder.
Other identified councils included: FCT, Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) with 536 cases,Tarauni in Kano State had 248; Katsina local government area in Katsina State (242), Maiduguri local government area in Borno State (167), Dutse local government area in Jigawa State (170), Nassarawa local government area in Kano state (152), Oredo in Edo State (126), Bauchi local government area in Bauchi State (114), and Ado Odo/Ota in Ogun State (107).
With Lagos Mainland taking the lead and Mushin LGA accounting for the highest number of 458 cases as at the time of compilation, there is no gainsaying that the poor have contracted the dreaded disease than the rich, at least in Lagos state.
Lagos is acclaimed to be the most populous city in Nigeria and in Africa. According to record, It is one of the fastest growing cities in the world and one of the most populous urban areas.
Lagos comprises two key areas: Lagos Mainland and Lagos Islands.
The Lagos Island is recognised as the upscale part of Lagos city occupied by movers and shakers of the society and most essentially CEOs.
Lagos Mainland however, is predominantly occupied by the ‘hustlers and bustlers’ and essentially employees.
At the outbreak of COVID-19 in Nigeria in March,the popular saying among the common man was that COVID-19 is a disease of the affluent as if the other class had immunity against the disease.
This saying is still much relevant till today much to the extent that the rich or anyone close to the rich are stereotyped as COVID-19 carrier.
Not sparing journalists and other frontline workers, these ones have become suspect among friends and members of their household because they are believed to be close to the elite.
A Lagos based journalist once said, “I am a COVID-19 suspect among folks because people believe that I’m close to the elite as a result of my profession. Once I’m engaged in a conversation with people in my locality and ask them to use their Facemask, they always claim to be safer and healthier than myself because I am considered vulnerable as a journalist.”
Again, this popular saying has won many to its side given the number of high profile deaths reportedly caused by COVID-19.
While there may have been deaths due to COVID-19 among the ‘poor’, none has gained media traction like the high profile deaths.
And because majority of the masses do not believe that COVID-19 is no respecter of any social class, they tend to care less and throw caution to the wind.
“COVID-19 can not come near me, I don’t know and I’m not a family member of any rich person. Have you heard of any poor man that has contracted COVID-19? I will appreciate you take me there. Please, stop telling me to use Facemask which will further endanger my life. Cofi nko, Cofi ni”, a brick layer once boasted.
It came to be that COVID-19 has actually spread its wings among the poor who has ignored precautions because they believe that COVID-19 is unleashing its venom only on the affluent.
Beyond the usual counting of positive cases, strengthening transparency and identifying locations of cases would change this impression and help the doubting Thomasses to be more on the alert
This is the way to go, to naturally enforce compliance to safety precaution and prevent the rising spread of COVID-19 in the Centre of Excellence.