Due to the second wave of the coronavirus disease, it is imperative for President Muhammadu Buhari to close schools indefinitely. Originally schools were designated to open on the 14th of January but the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 has hinted the date could be reviewed due to the spread of the novel disease. The date was later shelved aside before they finally opted for the 18th.
This might be a tough decision but it is for the betterment of the country. Coronavirus likes crowds. The virus doesn’t have hands and legs. It doesn’t move on it own. Human beings move it around due to their daily contacts with people.
Since the year started, Nigeria has been recording an average of 1,000 new cases every day. The number is expected to be higher than that with more testing. Three things have been attributed to the daily increase in the number of infections and they are:
1.) Possibility of new variants
2.) Yuletide travels
3.) School reopening
With the ASUU strike called from, the number of new cases is expected to spiral out of control. Nigerian universities are generally crowded. It is for this reason that some branches of ASUU have admitted that the schools are not safe for resumption.
Social distancing is not realistic and achievable in most Nigerian schools and how many people can wear facemasks throughout the day without experiencing discomfort? This makes the school environment very fertile for the disease to spread. Already, the opening of NYSC camps, markets and churches are already posing threats to the lives of Nigerians.
The only luck Nigeria and Africa enjoys as a whole is the factor of high asymptomatic cases and low death rates. The reasons for these are for the scientists to figure out in future. But the disease is still dangerous and more people are still dying.
In order to prevent a scenario in which dead bodies will litter the streets in Africa as people in the West anticipate, Buhari should take the bold step by suspending the resumption of schools for now. This move will cause a short term pain but the long term benefits are immense.
The schools can be gradually reopened when the spread of the disease subsides. Let us target the achievement of herd immunity through mass vaccination first.
Recall that the Lagos State University College of Medicine (LASUCOM) has shut its hostels after three of its students tested positive for COVID-19. More cases like this will arise when schools finally resume.
I want you all to remember that only those who are healthy or alive will be able to acquire formal education.