A review done by the Civic Media Lab on COVID-9 cases in Africa has revealed a dangerous trend amongst African countries, which relaxed the lockdown.
In the review, countries like Ghana, Egypt, Algeria and others, which relaxed lockdown have begun witnessing increases in Coronavirus cases, fuelling concerns.
In Nigeria, the story is not different. The CML, in a review of COVID-19 cases in Lagos, Ogun and the Federal Capital Territory noted that while Nigeria recorded 131 cases before the lockdown, the figure changed during the lockdown of 28 days, when there was a restriction of movement.
During this period, Nigeria recorded 2,388 confirmed cases, an addition of 2,257 more cases and 85 deaths.
Since the lockdown was relaxed, the figures have climbed up.
The rise in figures after the lockdown, has generated mixed reactions. Some experts have attributed the easing of the lockdown to the increase in COVID-19 cases while others disagree. Those, who disagreed said the virus was being transmitted in communities while the lockdown lasted.
Earlier, Ghana, a neighbouring country, had made a premature lifting of the lockdown with President Nana Akufo-Addo citing severe difficulties especially for the poor and vulnerable as a major reason.
The Civic Media Lab review also shows that the country has witnessed a significant surge in the number of cases being recorded ever since that announcement.
As at April 10 when the government announced the lifting of the lockdown, Ghana had 1,042 cases, ten days later, the country recorded an increase in the number of cases, which now stands at 2169. As at today, the country has recorded 4,263 cases.
At the last count, Ghana has done a total of 135,902 samples testing over 100,000 more than Nigeria’s 25,951 (as of May 9). Nigeria, with these limited numbers in testing, already has more cases than Ghana.
There is a huge possibility of yet-to-be tested infected people, who have been going around in public spaces from May 4 when the lockdown was lifted in Nigeria.
This is a huge red flag for easing lockdown as many asymptomatic persons would have spread the virus beyond contact tracing.
Also, South Africa has begun the partial easing of the lockdown in its agriculture sector. The country has also allowed some manufacturing and retail businesses to resume.
President Cyril Ramaphosa admitted that the lockdown had massively affected the country’s economy.
The country has recorded a rise to 5,951 cases from 3,953 between April 24 and May 2, when the lockdown was eased.
South Africa currently leads the continent with most cases due to its massive testing.
At the last count, the country has currently tested 292,153 samples with 8,232 positive cases.
The figure rose by 2,281, following the easing of the lockdown 12 days ago.
Similarly, Egypt and Algeria have both witnessed a significant increase in cases since easing the lockdown because of Ramadan.
Following the easing of the lockdown, Algeria has now become the fourth worse hit country by the virus in Africa.
Within one week of lifting the total lockdown, Algeria rose to 4,295 cases from 3,007 cases while Egypt went from 3,891 cases to 6,193 cases.
With the latest figure, Algeria has recorded 5,182 cases while Egypt has recorded 7,981 cases.
The top six countries in Africa massively hit by the virus (South Africa, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Nigeria and Ghana) have eased the lockdown in the countries for various reasons.
To contain the spread, Morocco has extended its national lockdown to contain the spread of Coronavirus until May 20.
Without even easing lockdown and with the poor testing rate, Nigeria already is the fifth-highest in the number of cases across Africa.
The increase in cases following the lifting of the lockdown order has made the World Health Organisation express fear that Africa could experience an increase in cases if the government continues to lift or relax lockdown measures.
In contrast, Lesotho, the only African country yet to record any case of COVID-19 remains on lockdown.
The Southern African country has extended its initial three weeks lockdown that expired on Tuesday (April 21) for another two weeks.
The efficiency of a lockdown order when strictly complied in countries like Lesotho stirs a big question on the bigger economies like Nigeria.
The already saturated isolation centres and a poorly funded health sector, added to a current surge in states like Kano, should Nigerians be worried?
With the current surge in cases, Nigeria is on course to face a health crisis as the country is recording cases above the capacity of its isolation centres.
The capacity of isolation centres in the country has already been overstretched with Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, appealing to Nigerians to donate their buildings as isolation centres.
Nigeria has about 1,886-bed space isolation centres across the country but has an active case of 2,818.
Similarly, health workers at the frontline of the fight against the virus are also overwhelmed with cases.
The NCDC has also been inundated with calls by Nigerians requesting for COVID-19 test with the agency accused of deliberately not testing nor admitting people for isolation.