Since numerous Nigerians have come to understand the gravity and repercussions that accompany the Corona Infection, getting the correct data and information has become significant. Consequently, every night many wait for the NCDC to release the new figures on the coronavirus cases detected across the country. At other times, each state awaits with anxiety the result of the corona virus tests taken. To this, they react, pass comment and lament on before going to bed.
These data released daily, of course, are very crucial to the government, the public sector, the private sector, and even citizens at large. So, how has this data been affecting people’s reaction to the virus?
First, the breaking news which carries the number of new cases, death, and recovery every morning is bringing close to home the truth that the corona virus is real and not the rich man’s disease which can be found in other countries. Reports such as the Daily Post’s exists to show that people do not believe in the existence of the virus. However, with data revealed every day, it becomes easy for them to understand that they could easily have been amidst those numbers, thereby raising awareness and sensitivity to the virus.
Unlike before, when figures were figures and numbers were essentially only numbers, Nigerians have begun to request more. From the solicitation for the number of tests conducted in every state to the number of individuals who got palliatives, questions are being asked and answers being very much investigated. Even in the case of mistakes, people are careful enough to notice, so that wrong data projection are sometimes rejected. Residents of Nigeria presently care progressively about the ongoings in the nation. As opposed to going on with their everyday lives, they are aware of what the government is doing and not doing to forestall the further spread of the infection.
Every day, the numbers keep increasing and with them come fake news of different types and exaggerated lies. Newsmongers cook up fake news to spread on social media platforms such as WhatsApp thereby causing panic, especially in older people who are quick to believe that such figures are accurate. The panic, sometimes, do not leave out even the young ones who believe that the data are from places of authority. Data misuse or fake information and news have been known to cause panic. With each data revealed, every day, the total recovery rate is included, with this hope is given that the virus isn’t a sentence to death but rather one which can be recovered from. It sends a message of hope to families who might have members with the virus.
Unfortunately, though, the reaction to the virus has been quite subjective. Due to lockdown, various activities have been ceased, therefore causing much anxiety. As the data is presented at various times, some people become more anxious and unsure of the future, causing them to panic and increasing their level of anxiety. In an article published by TIME in March 2020, explanations was given on why the corona pandemic may be causing increase in anxiety for many.
With the active and current information on the Corona Virus, even the government has been able to make active decisions. Questions such as where to site an isolation center, how many ventilators and other equipment are required, how many professionals should be in standby amidst others are answered. It helps them to avoid making a mountain out of an anthill and prevent unnecessary panic attacks when they have the numbers.
The importance of the data being released cannot be over emphasized as it is a guide for not only the health sector and the government but also people who depend on it as a guide what the future holds. Mr. Olasupo Abideen, one of the founders of KnowCovid19, an organization committed to sharing relevant information on Covid-19 and battling misinformation and fake news said, “Data is the new gold mine. Obviously over the years, development has not happened in Nigeria, because we have conflicting data. That is why we have KnowCOVID-19. We are deploying data and technology to really help flatten the curve.” He further mentioned that data is an essential tool for their work because it is what has been guiding advocacy, campaign and awareness. “If there’s something that we hold so dearly at KnowCovid-19, it is the importance of going out and telling the generality of the Nigerian audience the importance of data and making them see reason why the data will help flatten the curve. It is the data that people see that will give them an inkling or an idea of the efforts of the government, the number of discharge cases within a particular number of days and particularly the states or the environment we have the cases.”
This brings to home also the importance of having information on the general Nigerian populace. When was the last census conducted and how many people now live in Nigeria compared to then? For years, Nigeria has survived on estimates made by foreign bodies on the number of people in Nigeria. However, the President, Muhammad Buhari, believed that the numbers are only wild estimates which are not close to the real one. In other words, it has become pertinent for Nigeria as a nation to build a comprehensive and explicit database of her citizens if right and strategic decisions are to be made.