Non-Pharmaceutical measures to curtailing COVID-19 in Nigeria

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covid-19 measures
Image by Alexey Hulsov from Pixabay

Covid 19, indeed as changed the course of events globally. Governments across the world have had to embark on measures that are considered injurious to the economy and human relations. Non-contact with each other, the implementation of strict social distancing measures has been the primary tool for curbing the spread of the pandemic. The mandatory lockdowns or stay-at-home orders that have been imposed by most countries of the world remain drastic steps that have indeed affected our livelihoods.

The new strain of the virus said to have emerged in the UK has again thrown the world into another state of worry. Although the latest strain of the virus cannot be said to be much deadlier but can be said to be transmitted faster. Hence the need to consider non-pharmaceutical measures at curtailing the new strain of the virus as the second wave is already with us.

The first lockdown initiated by the Nigerian Government in the early year of 2020 came with a lot of economic hardship considering the fact that the informal sector constitutes a larger part of Nigeria’s working group. This soon gave rise to series of disturbances around as Government couldn’t provide enough palliative to cushion the effect of the pandemic lockdown prompting the Government to take measures to immediately easing the lockdown.

However, with the astronomical increase in covid 19 infections more than ever, it’s clear Nigeria is in its second wave of the pandemic. Although some countries have begun vaccinations, Nigeria’s Government is considering doing that in the year 2021, with the health minister projecting the sum of N400 Billion as the cost needed to vaccinate some proportion of its citizens.

However, predicting the severity of this second wave of this pandemic in Nigeria as well as assessing the preparedness of Nigeria’s Public health intervention strategies for combating the pandemic is a major challenge to both the public health, economy, and scientific community.

The fear of the public health system getting overwhelm this time around is more than ever before as people have continued to flout safety precautions.

Now that Nigeria is certified to officially be in recession, considering another lockdown is economically suicidal.

The option left for Nigerians is observing non-pharmaceutical protocols while economic activities run sideways least a vaccine gets to us. Already schools, Event centres and other social gatherings are beginning to be prohibited as some categories of Government workers are told to work from home just like before.

Some are even proposing guidelines that will allow people to get haircuts or eat at dine-in restaurants if businesses limit occupancy, physically distance patrons, and check employees for COVID-19 symptoms before their shifts.

The duration and timing of the relaxation of strict social distancing measures are crucially important in determining the future trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a new collaborative research study — from Arizona State University, the University of Florida Gainesville, the University of New South Wales, and Harvard Medical School — shows early termination of strict social distancing measures could trigger a devastating second wave of COVID-19 with results similar to those projected before they were implemented” and that seems to be the reason for Nigeria’s corona infections second wave spike.

With no vaccine yet available to us in Nigeria, containing COVID-19 should strictly be nonpharmaceutical measures believe to have some impact on curbing the disease.

According to a report, a team of researchers recently developed a new mathematical model, which may be the first of its kind, that incorporates five nonpharmaceutical interventions: social distancing, quarantine of suspected cases, isolation of confirmed cases, contact tracing and testing, and use of face masks in public.

The scientists found that the use of face masks in public could lead to the effective control, or elimination, of COVID-19 in the state of New York and the entire U.S. if the coverage levels are high enough. The compliance level needed decreases if wearing face masks in public is combined with a strict social distancing strategy.

Their results also showed quarantine of suspected cases and contact tracing have only marginal impact in minimizing COVID-19 burden, measured in terms of minimizing COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Courtesy; study, Mathematical assessment of the impact of nonpharmaceutical interventions on curtailing the 2019 novel Coronavirus, was published this week in mathematical Biosciences, published by Elsevier. The study was supported in part by funding from the Simons Foundation and the National Science Foundation.

The project is a collaboration with members of the PLuS Alliance, which combines the strengths of leading research universities on different continents, including Arizona State University and University of New South Wales Sydney, to develop sustainable solutions to society’s global challenges, such as global health.

One of the lead authors and a graduate student in ASU’s School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, Enahoro Iboi.

“This is probably the first most detailed modeling study to give a robust assessment of the various lockdown relaxation scenarios in terms of the number of additional mortalities we can expect,” said Arizona State Foundation Professor Abba Gumel.

The researchers developed a new mathematical model for studying the transmission dynamics and control of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. and in particular the state of New York, the epicenter of COVID-19.

“This study is so important because we need thorough, well-designed, informative data-driven research to guide public health action,” said Matthew Scotch, associate professor of biomedical informatics in the College of Health Solutions and assistant director of the Biodesign Center for Environmental Health Engineering at Arizona State University.

The model is a Kermack-McKendrick, compartmental, deterministic system of nonlinear equations. It incorporates features pertinent to COVID-19 transmission dynamics and control, such as the quarantine of suspected cases, the isolation or hospitalization of confirmed, contact tracing, social distancing, and the use of face masks in public. The model uses available COVID-19 mortality data, which is more reliable than case data and provides a realistic real-time assessment and estimate of the burden of the pandemic in New York.

The researchers first used the model to simulate the impact of social distancing, which for this study included not only individuals staying six feet apart, but also closures of schools and nonessential businesses, staying at home, avoiding crowded events and large gatherings, and moving in-person meetings online.

They found that the state of New York and the entire U.S. could have faced between 100,000 to 200,000 deaths had the strict social distancing measures not been implemented in March.

The effect of the timing of when to terminate the current strict social distancing protocols was also monitored. The simulations showed that terminating strict social distancing, face mask usage, contact tracing, quarantine, and isolation with 144,000 deaths in New York state, representing a 37% increase, while the nation will record up to 156,000 deaths.

If the social distancing measures are terminated at the end of June, the projection for the cumulative mortality figures is 33,200 for New York state and 50,300 for the entire US. This represents 68% and 69% reductions, respectively, in the baseline cumulative mortality.

This study clearly shows that the clamor to “reopen” and relax or terminate the social distancing measures that have proven to be hugely successful would undoubtedly trigger a devastating rebound of COVID-19 in both New York state and the entire U.S.

Contact tracing involves searching for individuals with whom a confirmed case has closely interacted within a certain time frame, such as two days prior to the onset of symptoms, then interviewing, testing, and isolating or hospitalizing that contact if they have the disease.

In this study, contact tracing is very much interlinked with testing. Contact tracing is carried out after a confirmed case is diagnosed, following testing and diagnosis.

Results show that while contact tracing is important in reducing the size of the pandemic peak number of new COVID-19 cases, investing many resources toward contact tracing beyond the baseline rate lice not be cost-effective.

Simulations were further carried out to assess the impact of widespread use of masks in public. The results show a marked decrease in the number of hospitalizations, for both New York and the entire U.S., with the increasing use of more effective masks and with wider coverage.

“Community transmission can be controlled if lockdown measures are partially lifted, as long as individuals wear a mask in public and large-scale randomized testing is done to really give us a clear assessment of where we are,” said Gumel. “And the testing is complemented with the strict containment strategy of rapidly isolating the confirmed cases and isolating their contacts.” 

“Wide-scale randomized testing will let us know if we need to stop the partial lifting of restrictions, or if we need to further relax the lockdowns.”

The study suggests that COVID-19 is a disease that appears to be controllable using basic nonpharmaceutical interventions, particularly social distancing and the use of face masks in public, especially when implemented in combinations.

The factors that are critically important to the success of the COVID-19 control efforts are the early implementation of these intervention measures and ensuring their high adherence in the community.

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Stories published are the express opinions and thoughts of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Btechstories


Olanrewaju Shodimu

A political and public commentator, seasoned and prolific content creator, a feature writer and a tech enthusiast.

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