How Travelers, Transporters Fail To Take Precautions Amid Increasing Cases Of COVID-19 (2)

For Twentyten Daily, Tijani Abdulkabeer and Matthew Piponsuhu, visited various parks in Ogun State, Southwest Nigeria, to observe the ignorance of travelers and transporters to COVID-19 protocols during the festive season despite recording increasing cases in the state

The number of new COVID-19 cases in Ogun State leveled up between December 1st and Dec. 22, 2021. This came amidst concerns that during the festive period the numbers might double because of the omicron variant cases newly discovered in Nigeria.

The Nigerian Center for Disease and Control (NCDC), in its breakdown of confirmed cases in each state, reported that confirmed cases were at 5,375 as of November 29, 2021. However, cases began to increase by December after the outbreak of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

According to the daily report, Ogun state recorded just seven (7) cases between December 1 and December 9, but as the festivities drew nearer, the state was confronted with an upsurge in the recorded case. 

For instance, figures show that between December 20 and December 25 the state had more than twenty (20) confirmed cases for each of these days. Findings by these reporters revealed that despite this increase, residents have continued to flout the COVID-19 protocols. 

Residents were seen going about their usual activities without adhering to the COVID-19 guidelines– with some believing that the government is weaponizing the virus to delude the public.

These reporters visited several motor parks in Ogun state to observe the compliance of travelers and transporters to the COVID-19 safety protocols during the festivities. 

At Otta Park

Between December 23 and December 25, these reporters visited Sango Otta motor park in Ado/Odo/Ota local government. They observed that many of the passengers did not use their nose masks and the rule of social distancing was also flouted.

Olabiyi, who spoke to Twentyten Daily, noted that the use of nose masks is not made compulsory and so passengers only use it when it pleases them.

“This COVID-19 protocol is not taken seriously here. I have been here several times and I can tell you that we only use the nose masks when we feel like it. No one is enforcing it on us. And people don’t care.”

Another traveler, Olajumoke (not real name) who was traveling to Ibadan explained that the poor adherence to the virus protocol might not be unconnected to the beliefs of many people, including himself, that COVID-19 exists.

“The virus does not exist at all,” he said justifying his refusal to wear a nose mask and adhere to protocols.

Caption: A motor park in Ogun state

However, it was a different case for Williams (last name withheld), a passenger in the park. Though he had the nose mask below his chin, he explained that for many of them that had it on, it was because of the harmattan and not that they wanted to observe protocol.

“To me, I do not think people adhere to the protocol because people do not wear masks again because of Covid 19 but because of dust and also this month I see people adhere to the protocol. Wearing a mask, washing hands, maintaining a social distance though I do not think it’s because of covid 19 but because of the harmattan season,” he said.

Speaking with these reporters, a driver who commutes from Sango Otta-Ibadan explained that the protocol was only enforced and taken seriously during the lockdown and not any longer.

The driver further noted that the “economic situation in the country” is one reason there has not been compliance adding that the government should “end poverty first before COVID-19.”

At Panseke park

When these reporters visited this park in the Abeokuta area, they observed that many passengers including the drivers flouted the COVID-19 protocol while they continued with their activities. It was further observed that of the eighteen (18) passengers in the bus only seven (7) had the nose masks on. 

One of the passengers, a serving corp member, while speaking with these reporters explained that she cared less about the increasing cases of the virus in the state and further noted that she only put on the nose masks to prevent dust. 

Many others, including the drivers, declined the request to speak with these reporters.

Residents defy order

Despite the 5,583 cases recorded in the state as of December 24, these reporters observed after visiting and speaking with residents in the Ogun state motor park that the people are bent on failing to uphold the COVID-19 protocols.

For many residents that spoke with this reporter, they perceived the virus despite scientific evidence as unreal.

Kolade Sarah, a resident of Abeokuta said, “People are still saying it is not real. So most of them don’t follow the protocol. Some are saying the government is using it as a source to generate money.”

Another resident, Adekunle Emmanuel, “People do not take the protocol laid down on COVID-19. What is the protocol; Strictly making use of facemask, keeping social distance, offering a handshake, and so on. People do not even think of COVID-19 again. 

He stressed that some people only make use of nose masks “because of the harmattan season to avoid the inhale of dust.”

When these reporters spoke with Adewale Micheal, his response points to the inability of the government to account for the donations gotten during the early days of the virus outbreak and this is fast reshaping his thought on the ingenuity of the virus.

“During the early days, the Federal Government received donations from several organizations but yet the money cannot be accounted for. Even if the government announced another lockdown there would be protests.”

Emmanuel, a student of Moshood Abiola Polytechnic (MAPOLY), Abeokuta-Ogun state, said, “Since the outbreak of the pandemic, there has been controversy about whether it is real or not; and about how factual the number of cases reported is. Thus, Omicron or not, there are still misconceptions and mistrust amongst people.”

Adepoju Qawiyat while reacting to the increasing cases of the virus in the state said: “ It has been difficult for quite a few people to take those measures because many people still have the notion that the virus is not real. And another thing that prevents people from getting vaccinated is the misconception that surrounds the vaccine, that it is this, it is that.”

“People feel the vaccine has a devastating effect on them and hence they would rather not want to collect.”

But it was a different case for Zaynab, a third-year student of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB). Amidst available data from NCDC, she noted that she was not aware of cases of the new variant – Omicron in the state.

“This is the first time that I will be hearing about cases of omicron in Ogun State,” she said.

Awareness; not enough

Speaking with these reporters, Abdulhakeem Abdulkareem, a Co-founder for KnowCovid–19, said, “It is very obvious that COVID-19 has become part of our daily activity since 2020. When it first came people had disbelief and mistrust about the virus and it has become a global phenomenon. Yet, people neglect it.”

Abdulhakeeem blamed the government officials and individuals who publicly flout the protocols. He added, “Awareness about COVID-19 has reduced. We do not hear about it or see jingles about it again on Radio, Television unlike before.”

“Also, in our place of work people do not take COVID-19 protocols anymore. Before now, organizations did ensure that employees adhere to the protocols but that is not the case any longer.”

However, he reiterated saying, “there is need for reorientation” of the people on the danger of neglecting the protocol. “The government should “deny people access to public spaces if they are not using face masks.

“The government should also use soft power to make people adhere to COVID-19 Protocols,” he said. 

  • This investigation is a two-part series report produced to check the compliance of people to the COVID-19 protocols during the yuletide season. 

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