Youths and spread of COVID-19

SIR: The much dreaded second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic which is said to be a deadlier and more virulent strain of the virus is now here with us and is already claiming major casualties.

As at the time of writing this, Nigeria had recorded a total of 5,125 new cases of COVID-19 and 30 deaths within the first five days of 2021, an indication that the second wave of the virus is on the rise.

More worrisome is the fact that the 5,125 new cases are higher than the total infections recorded in the country in the first 75 days of the virus last year, according to statistics.

Reliable data shows Nigeria recorded a total of 4,641 cases From February 27 to May 11, 2020 and the average daily death from the virus within the period was three as against the average of six daily recorded within the first five days of this year.

Chief among the factors fuelling the resurgence in the coronavirus pandemic, according to health experts as well as the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 (PTF), is the activities and assumptions that the virus does not pose a serious threat to our youthful population, leading to an increase in the infection rate among young people, who are subsequently infecting older and more vulnerable family members.

Another major cause of this second wave of the pandemic is the lack of compliance with non-pharmaceutical interventions – particularly the disregard for facial covering in public places, large gatherings at events linked to the yuletide season, as well as recent civil demonstrations.

Other lifestyle choices like disregard for public health preventive measures such as hand washing hygiene and physical distance requirements are also among the major culprits.

Social gatherings involving large congregations from different parts of the country, and the world, at events such as weddings, religious activities, political rallies, conferences and end of year celebrations have also been blamed for the upsurge in the respiratory disease.

These events, classified globally as ‘supers-spreader events’, make the risk of a single infection causing a large outbreak among attendees significantly higher.

The opening of the economy with progressive relaxation of restrictions in congregational areas such as places of worship, restaurants, bars, lounges, shopping and event centres is also not an exception.

It is against this backdrop that the youths are being encouraged to take personal responsibility to halt the spread of the virus and mitigate the negative consequences that another national lockdown could have on lives and livelihoods as was seen during the last time out.