THE ROLE OF NIGERIA GOVERNMENT IN RESPONSE TO COVID 19 PANDEMIC A STUDY OF ABUJA

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INTRODUCTION

A proactive response is critical to the containment of any disease outbreak, but the coronavirus took the world by surprise and most countries were not prepared initially for the pandemic, including the world powers. Shortly after the outbreak of COVID-19, the World Health Organization (W.H.O) issued guidelines and updates on how to mitigate the spread of the pandemic, and thereafter, many countries adopted different measures in addition to the

W.H.O guidelines to contain the spread of the disease. There were lockdowns in most parts of the world, and people were asked to work from home. Some countries even deployed their military to enforce coronavirus restrictions, and to reduce the number of covidiots. There were increased demands for health equipment including, protective gowns, sanitizers, face masks and hand gloves. Countries like the United States and the U.K also opened their visitation doors for medical professionals such as doctors and nurses who were working or willing to treat the effects of COVID-19. Also, large gatherings and sporting activities were suspended at both local and international levels. Big sporting events like the prestigious European Champions League games were played behind closed doors before they were suspended. Global responses to Coronavirus pandemic were varied from country to country, but most countries endorsed the closure of school strategy as a means to contain the spread of COVID-19. Some selected COVID-19 responses across the world particularly as it relates to the closure of schools due to Coronavirus are highlighted below:

In the United States, many schools were closed down, and scheduled tests and examinations were also cancelled. The report shows that some of the schools closed down for Coronavirus in the U.S might not resume back for the rest of the academic year (Madeline, 2020). New York and the California States were among the worst-hit states in the U.S and the number of cases increased steadily despite strong measures put in place by both the federal and state governments to contain the pandemic. At a point, the country surpassed China in the number of cases of Coronavirus, but the country is determined to defeat the pandemic. School closures in the U.S affected over 60 million students in the country. In Spain, about 11 million students were affected by school closures for mitigation of the spread of Coronavirus. Regional governments in the country closed down schools in response to the increased cases of Coronavirus in the country. The closure of schools in Spain particularly in Madrid led to the suspension of job contracts for people who work at school cafeterias and in special education (El Pais, 2020). The closure of schools in Spain was very necessary considering that the country lost 849 people in a day due to Coronavirus. In Saudi Arabia, Middle East Monitor (2020), reported that schools and universities across the kingdom were ordered to close down for Coronavirus by the Ministry of Education. The government however, directed that “Virtual schools and distance education be activated to ensure that the educational process continues in an effective and quality manner”.

In Australia, Michael (2020) reported that dozens of independent schools were shutdown at New South Wales while some moved to online classes. Students learn from home, while some schools were opened but implemented strong measures to ensure social distancing strategy. The opening of schools amidst the coronavirus pandemic was backed by the Australian government. The Prime Minister openly announced that schools remained open because the government believes that “children are at very low risk from coronavirus, and the closing of schools could have crippling effects on their health sector and the economy”. The government cited solid health case for keeping schools open, but teachers and parents were worried (ABC News, 2020). The country also banned outdoor gathering of more than 2 people, while 18 billion dollars was also approved to mitigate the spread and effects of the Coronavirus. In Italy, schools were shutdown indefinitely, and the military were deployed to help enforce restrictions. However, despite the measures put in place by the government towards curbing the spread of Coronavirus, the country became an epicenter for the outbreak and recorded 969 coronavirus deaths in a single day.

In India, all schools and educational institutions were closed down and the government imposed “Janata” Curfew which restricted all citizens to stay at home to contain the spread of Coronavirus. The police also went round some cities to create public awareness about the pandemic.

In France, the government ordered the closure of all schools in a televised broadcast by President Macron. The measure was in response to the increased health crisis in the country due to coronavirus. The country was badly affected just like their counterparts in many parts of the world. The Coronavirus were reported to have originated from Wuhan, China and it was the epicenter at the beginning of the outbreak. Schools and other public institutions were shutdown to mitigate the spread of the virus. The closure of schools and other measures put in place by the government proved effective and the pandemic was contained to a large extent. The country also

closed its borders with some neighbouring countries. In Iran, the government closed all schools as part of the preventive measures to halt the spread of coronavirus. Although, the country was among the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, and the death tolls in the country were high. The coronavirus increased Iran’s economic problems, having been faced with economic sanctions from the West earlier. In Senegal, schools were shutdown to limit the spread of COVID-19. The country was the first sub-Saharan African country to close down schools due to coronavirus. In South Africa, the government directed all schools to close down in response to the coronavirus pandemic. This is in addition to the prohibition of social gatherings of more than 100 people. New cases were reported in the country and campaigns for behavioral changes were carried out to reduce the spread of the disease.

In Germany, schools were shutdown in response to the spread of coronavirus. The death rate due to coronavirus was reported to be low compared to their neighbours. The country also earmarked more than 800 billion dollars to fight the pandemic. In Russia, Schools were shutdown, and several other measures were taken to halt the pandemic. The death toll for coronavirus in Russia was reported to be low, but measures were put in place to contain the pandemic.

In Nigeria, the federal government ordered a total close down of all schools. The decision was largely applauded, and the National University Commission (NUC), a regulatory body for all universities in Nigeria also gave a follow-up directive to all universities in the country to shutdown. The government also suspended social gatherings, and workers were asked to work from home. An Italian who was reported to be the first case of coronavirus in Nigeria was successfully treated and discharged according to the government, but new cases emerged thereafter. Thus, the country needs to do more in terms of disaster preparedness and response. In Ghana, schools were shutdown to contain the spread of coronavirus disease. The government also released 100 million US dollars to enhance the fight against the pandemic. The country reacted proactively to contain the spread of the Virus. In Madagascar, the country has recorded zero COVID-19 death so far, and the country has claimed a breakthrough in Herbal medicine for COVID-19 treatment. However, the WHO issued warned that such claim has not been scientifically approved and cannot be recommended by the organization as cure for COVID-19.

It is important to note that while many countries were shutting down schools, some others like Singapore, Sweden, Brazil, and Australia kept their schools open as a kind of strategy to contain the contagion. The untimely closure of schools was good supportive measures to contain the spread of the disease, but it also had some adverse consequences on millions of students globally who were faced with multiple challenges in their education.

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