IFAIR’s Series in Times of Corona: Today from Nigeria / Germany / Panama / Mongolia

IFAIR’s Series in Times of Corona: Today from Nigeria / Germany / Panama / Mongolia

Nigeria: COVID-19 and Nigeria – A case study of Lagos State approaches to the fight 

COVID-19 is an example of a zoonotic disease keeping the world in suspense. The outbreak was first noted in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. A first case was confirmed by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on the 27th February, 2020 in Lagos state on an Italian business traveller. The NCDC immediately activated the National Emergency Operation Centre (NEOC) to work closely with the state health authorities to respond to the case by identifying the social contacts of the patient since he entered the country. A presidential task force was established to respond to threats posed by the outbreak and additionally to cooperate with the State Government to curtail the deadly virus.

Lagos, commercial capital of Nigeria is the epicentre of the virus in Nigeria. NCDC reports on April 9: 288 confirmed cases, 51 recovered and discharged, 7 deaths. Lagos alone lists 158 record persons.

The government introduced further measures to slow down the spread of the virus. Ports of entry are put on close monitoring. It provided toll-free number to contact NCDC and other platforms. The government also identified contacts with suspected COVID-19 individuals and ensured isolation and follow up. In addition, there was provision of prompt and reliable updates and daily messages from the NCDC to individual’s contact.

About the author: Name – Sanusi Hiqmah Ifedolapo Itorobong / School – Lagos State University / Course of study – Zoology and environmental biology

 

Germany: The Storm before the Storm

Summer-like temperatures and the corona crisis hit Germany almost simultaneously, seemingly making contact-restrictions more durable. But march temperatures of 1.07°C warmer compared to last century’s average are just another indicator that the real crisis is yet to come: climate change and its consequences. When escaping into German forests these days, local traces of climate change are ever more visible; consecutive droughts have led to forests’ condition being worse than 1984, when the fear of forest deaths traumatized a whole generation.

Germany’s environmental minister has finally highlighted the correlation between environmental destruction and the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and promised preventative environmental protection. Similarly, the current economic downturn shifted Germany’s rather poor performance in reaching its 2020 climate goals: in opposition to pre-corona forecasts, Germany is now projected to outdo its aim of a 40% CO2 reduction compared to 1990 levels by 5%.

Alas, dominant narratives continuously shape the crumbling of the economic-growth paradigm as a momentary loss rather than an opportunity to mitigate the next crisis. The idea of business-as-usual politics post-corona is crushing nascent hope that lessons learnt will abandon short-term profits for long-sighted sustainable environmental, economic, and social policy. Although civil society might currently be in slumber, the time to demand our government to take urgent action is now. A walk in the forest will prove its urgency.

About the author: Tatjana Söding holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Politics with a special focus on sustainability and sociology from University College Maastricht. The question that concerns her most is, how, in light of the climate crisis, current political, economic, and social structures can be transformed to guarantee societal and environmental justice. She will further explore this in an upcoming Master’s in political ecology.

 

Panama: Panama and its handling of the COVID19 Pandemic

Panama has undertaken rather strict measures to cope with the spread of COVID-19, by gradually increasing the intensity of the confinement rules. As for now, there are no signs of their easing. Panama’s way of tackling the issue is very polemic as the people face one of the strongest restrictions compared to other Latin American countries (followed by Peru). Those restrictions consist of separating between men and women: Women are allowed to leave their homes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; and men on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. On Sundays, the whole country is on lockdown and everybody has to stay at home. During the respective days, people are only allowed to be outside for a maximum of two hours and only to run the most important errands such as grocery shopping. A hard schedule must be followed (determined by the last digit of each person’s ID).

Besides, an alcohol ban has been imposed almost from the beginning. Very few businesses can open their doors at this point, which has dramatically impacted the economy. Panama has a small population with a service-centered economy. Although its GDP is one of the highest in the region, the country does not have much room to endure a total shutdown of the economy, nor the financial cushion to implement massive bailouts or social relieves like those adopted by some European countries or the United States.

While the measures seem to pay off as the curve is flattening, the cost appears to be high. The restrictions threaten many people´s mental health, for example, suicide rates are increasing. As Panamanians are warm people who cherish social interaction, social distancing measures are more difficult to fully implement, meaning that such heavy controls seem to be the only way out of the COVID-19 crisis.

About the author: Humberto Vivas is a Venezuelan lawyer. He lives in Panama and is working as a Research Analyst in a multi-national compliance firm. 

 

Mongolia:

Concerns about the Coronavirus were not on the minds of the numerous people enjoying the warm days of spring in Mongolia over the last days. However, almost everyone was wearing a mask on the street.

Mongolia is a land that has a border with China and is at high risk of a quick spread of the pandemic virus. However, to date (April 10th), Mongolia has reported only 17 infected cases, with no reported death and no domestic transmission. The Mongolian government was quick in launching and implementing measures to combat the coronavirus. A few days after China announced the first cases, the Mongolian government closed the border to China and all schools and cancelled public events. But shops and restaurants could remain open, and some people were able to work from home.

It was surprising that the public reaction to the coronavirus outbreak was relatively calm and citizens followed the measures and advices announced by officials seriously. This might be due to the public information campaign conducted by the Health Ministry and the National Emergency Commission. Their press conference was broadcasted across local media outlets to inform the public. It showed that access to information and transparency strengthen social trust and voluntary cooperation – especially in a public health crisis.

Mongolians also showed generous willingness to help and donate, even though, no one asked them to. Some companies closed the doors temporarily and some of them offered their services online, which reduced physical contacts. However, we have already started to face some impacts of COVID-19, such as the beginning of an economic crisis, unemployment, and social stress. Unfortunately, there has not been any good solution observed to deal with these negative effects.

About the author: Mungunchimeg Batkhuyag is currently living in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia and holds a Master’s Degree in Peace and Conflict Studies of the University of Magdeburg, Germany. Mungunchimeg is interested in environmental communication and public policy.

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