Two days ago, Monday, 4th May 2020, I resumed work for the first time in two months, I was on my annual leave and I was scheduled to resume on the 31st of March. Coincidentally, President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration ordered a lockdown of Lagos and Ogun States, and the Federal Capital Territory to check the spread of the coronavirus pandemic on the same day. According to data from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control’s official website, Nigeria had a total of 146 confirmed cases for Coronavirus as of 31st of March, 2020 when the President directed an initial two weeks’ lockdown of the three cities.
Interestingly, as at yesterday, Tuesday, 5th May 2020, data collected from Johns Hopkins University and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control confirmed that Nigeria has a total of 2,950 (0.08%) coronavirus cases out 3,662,101 global cases and 98 (0.03%) deaths out of 257,207 global deaths making Nigeria the country with the highest coronavirus case in west Africa, the 63rd in the world, and the 5th in Africa.
In consequence, according to the information sourced from the NCDC and Johns Hopkins University, it is obvious that the coronavirus disease has continued to spread within the population through community transmission as some new COVID-19 patients state that they do not have any travel history. The lockdown lasted for five weeks in Lagos, Ogun, and FCT, Abuja before it was partially lifted but it has only translated to increased figures in geometric proportions and most Nigerians believe that the lockdown is absolutely unnecessary in the midst of an imminent global recession, dwindling prices of petroleum products in the global market, a fragile mono-product, and import-dependent economy rising unemployment amongst other socio-economic challenges the country is currently battling.
In subsequent paragraphs, we would address the economic cost of the lockdown against the health implications, we would also discuss the approach of other countries and regions, and ultimately discuss why the government might need to extend the lockdown or completely eradicate it for other pragmatic approaches that are tailor-made to suit our country’s dynamics.
v THE ECONOMIC COST OF CORONAVIRUS IN THE WORLD: UNITED STATES IN FOCUS
According to the Financial Times, History can also offer some pointers — but not always ones that provide comfort. This fascinating study from the Federal Reserve of San Francisco examines the long-run economic impact of 12 global pandemics stretching back to the 14th century. They find that destruction caused to capital and labor suggests that “significant macroeconomic after-effects of the pandemics persist for about 40 years”
Similarly, according to a feature article sourced from the BBC’s website, titled: ‘Coronavirus: A visual guide to the economic impact’ by Lora Jones, Daniele Palumbo & David Brown, the global economy is expected to record a recession as major economic powerhouses have started counting their losses. According to the article, The United States, United Kingdom, Japan, Italy, France, Germany, and Canada are projected to record negative GDP growth rates in 2020. The article did not discuss Russia’s economy but it is obvious that the Kremlin is also preparing for a shock as the international oil price has reduced which can partly be blamed on their unpopular row with Saudi Arabia that started a price war in the first place. Out of the eight countries surveyed in the post, China is the only country without projected negative GDP figures in 2020. However, their economy would also witness a contraction no thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic.
According to Wikipedia, The COVID-19 pandemic spread to the United States in January 2020. Local transmission had started by January, and deaths had occurred by February. By the end of March, cases had occurred in all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and all inhabited United States territories except American Samoa. As of May 4, 2020, the United States has the most confirmed active cases and deaths in the world; and its death rate was 206 per million people, the tenth highest rate globally. According to information from Johns Hopkins University, the United States has 1,204,475 (32.7%) cases out of a global figure of 3,682,968 and 71,078 (27.6) deaths out of 257,818 global deaths as at 12:45pm (Nigerian Time), Today, 6th May 2020. The United States economy also recorded a 4.8% contraction in the first quarter of 2020. In April, more than 20% private-sector jobs were cut as the United States recorded the highest private-sector job loss in history and more than 30 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits as at the time of putting this piece together.
v THE ECONOMIC COST OF CORONAVIRUS IN EUROPE: SWEDEN IN FOCUS
Europe has recorded more cases and deaths than any other continent since the coronavirus outbreak was first reported in Wuhan, Hubei province, China in December 2019. According to Wikipedia, as of 13th March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) considered Europe the active center of the COVID-19 pandemic. Cases by country across Europe had doubled over periods of typically 3 to 4 days, with some countries (mostly those at earlier stages of detection) showing doubling every 2 days. As of 17th March 2020, all countries within Europe had a confirmed case of COVID-19, with Montenegro being the last European country to report at least one case. At least one death has been reported in all European countries, apart from the Vatican City. The economic cost of the virus is obviously devastating as the European Union has warned of economic contractions of historic proportions. As of 18th March 2020, more than 250 million people are in lockdown across Europe.
Alternatively, Sweden is not following the rest of Europe on lockdowns and economic hibernations. In an article published by CNBC on 22nd April 2020, titled: Sweden resisted a lockdown, and its capital Stockholm is expected to reach ‘herd immunity’ in weeks. Sweden’s pragmatic and customized approach was brought to the fore. Excerpts from the post; ‘Its neighbors closed borders, schools, bars, and businesses as the coronavirus pandemic swept through Europe, but Sweden went against the grain by keeping public life as unrestricted as possible.
The strategy — aimed at allowing some exposure to the virus to build immunity among the general population while protecting high-risk groups like the elderly — has been controversial. Some health experts liken it to playing Russian roulette with public health. But now, the country’s chief epidemiologist said the strategy appears to be working and that “herd immunity” could be reached in the capital Stockholm in a matter of weeks.‘
v THE ECONOMIC COST OF CORONAVIRUS IN AFRICA: NIGERIA IN FOCUS
Africa has continued to ‘wow’ the world with some interesting news on Coronavirus coming from the continent. Madagascar is on course to deliver the first WHO ratified coronavirus drug called: COVID Organics and Senegal has the best coronavirus record in the world presently, Ghana is the first and only country in the world to fight the pandemic using drone technology. Facts with Pendusky, The Coronavirus in Africa edition discusses this in extensive detail. The Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, the body that co-ordinates pandemic responses across the continent told the BBC that lockdowns have played a role in reducing new cases. The World Health Organization also says countries should ensure they have the capacity to detect, test, isolate, and care for confirmed cases as they ease restrictions.
As the global community continues to try every available way to combat the virus and ‘Flatten The Curve’, data from Johns Hopkins University on the top 10 countries surveyed authenticates the efficacy of lockdowns, social distancing, and other measures put in place to combat the scourge.
During the lockdown, I concluded a course ‘Managing COVID-19: Tracking The Novel Coronavirus’ hosted by Lecturers from The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine through FutureLearn, and during the course of my studies; Prof. Gabriel Leung, Dean of the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine of the University of Hong Kong (HKU), discussed the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, and the measures that were taken to contain and reduce the impact which included quarantine, lockdowns, isolation of identified cases and entry restrictions, and so on.
Conclusively, as normalcy gradually returns to Nigeria and other parts of the world, we need to remind ourselves that the threat of the Coronavirus pandemic is real and alive. Economic disruptions, unemployment, business closure, and job losses, recessions and other challenges occasioned by the lockdown in the midst of a global crash in crude oil prices might cause short term pains but we need to put all hands on desk and ensure that saving lives is our topmost priority. We should ensure that we follow safety and prevention tips and source for reliable information provided by the World Health Organization and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.
Stay Home, Stay Safe.
God Bless Us All.
Oluwole Olusanya is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of one of the fastest-growing lifestyle and entertainment website in the country. He is a banker, writer, blogger, public affairs analyst and a tax consultant. He anchors Trending Topics on SHEFFA where he shares his thoughts and opinions on trending issues.
He is currently studying for a Master’s Degree in Business Administration at the University of South Wales, Wales, United Kingdom. He has diplomas in Banking and Finance, Investigative Journalism, Creative Writing, and Linguistics from Lagos State Polytechnic, Isolo, Lagos, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland and The Open University, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom.