The COVID-19 pandemic has created several tragi-comic double jeopardies which are peculiar to Nigeria.

The politician or elite who previously felt too “big” to attend local hospitals, but is now forced to either eat humble pie or die; the doctor whose job puts him at the greatest risk of contracting the virus and so cannot enjoy an “I told you so” moment to underline the irresponsibility of a government which chronically under-funds the health sector.

The “pastor-preneur” who has invested heavily in a new church auditorium, but now has only his nuclear family as the sources of tithes and offering; and a government which must now provide welfare for a restless population under lockdown, in the face of plummeting oil prices.

A few weeks ago, nobody could have imagined any of these scenarios. Nigeria’s most “versatile” prophets and future-tellers have been caught napping. Real life has become stranger than the most creative Nollywood plot.

Don Jazzy, one of Nigerians foremost celebrities alluded to this unfortunate situation in his social media post reported on March 25, 2020, wherein he mocked, “Build hospitals build hospitals una no hear, now go abroad for treatment”.

Patrick Okigbo also addressed this issue in his article of the same day, titled, “Nowhere to run: When wealth, made or stolen, provides no refuge”.

However, in the case of Nigerian cancer patients, COVID-19 has put them not in a double jeopardy, but in a four-dimensional (quadruple) jeopardy.

The virus responsible for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) was first identified in China on the 30th of December 2019. The outbreak of Covid-19 soon became a pandemic and exactly a month ago (on the 27th of February), the first case of Covid-19 was confirmed in Nigeria.

This pandemic has rightly precipitated a series of remedial actions and reactions both globally and at all levels of society, given the contagious and acute nature of the disease. Thanks to the sustained media awareness and advocacy campaign!

The pandemic took the whole world unawares such that the robust health infrastructures of even the most developed countries became overwhelmed. This has caused widespread fear of what will become of developing countries like Nigeria if they get hit with the magnitude of the infection currently seen in these advanced countries. At the moment almost all countries in the world are currently on lockdown.

As at March 26, 2020, there were 468,577 cases of Covid-19 globally and 21,185 deaths with an overall mortality rate of 4.5 per cent. Most of these deaths occurred in the elderly and people with preexisting non-communicable diseases, especially cancer.

In fact, in Italy, the country with the highest mortality, the earliest data showed that 20 per cent of patients who had died from Covid-19 were cancer patients.

When Nigeria reported its first coronavirus-related death, which occurred on March 22, 2020 the casualty, was a cancer patient who had returned from the UK where he had gone for chemotherapy treatment… Continue Reading Below