Bonny Lockdown: Let Us, Ordinary People, Live

A total lockdown that will last for two weeks, imposed by the Rivers State Government because people with chronic diseases mainly have been dying suddenly, began in Bonny Island today.Governor Wike said in a state-wide broadcast on Saturday while announcing the lockdown, “Pursuant to the fundamental objective of stopping the spread of coronavirus, we have reviewed the situation in Bonny Island and Onne communities and come to the conclusion that a total lockdown is necessary at this time to shut down the continuing spread of the virus in these communities.”

I have no doubt that Governor Wike has the best interest of Bonny residents at heart. However, good intentions do not guarantee good outcomes. A lockdown coming approximately one month after people started dying suddenly will cause more suffering for survivors burying their loved ones, drying their tears, and gathering the courage to move on with their lives.

On May 23, 2020, BBC News Pidgin reported the surge in deaths in Bonny, and widespread loss of taste and smell among other symptoms. If COVID-19 is the cause of these symptoms, considering how widespread they were, then very likely everyone living in Bonny has been infected with the virus or come in contact with an infected person. Since May 23, it appears as if one person at least in almost every household in Bonny has fallen sick, and lost their sense of smell and taste. People have recovered. And some have passed on. Some survivors are too poor to mourn for long. With heavy hearts, people are trying to go on living.

Yesterday, a recently widowed woman in her late twenties asked me to get her empty bottles so that she can put palm oil in them for sale, and fend for herself and her two children. Today, the lockdown began. There are many people like her who depend on the daily income to survive. There are convalescing people, some of them are breadwinners, who need fruits and vegetables. Now, they can’t get them. People would have to survive on noodles and other processed foods that have been linked with chronic diseases. Is a total lockdown the best thing for Bonny people right now?

Other related questions beg for answers. Is widespread testing ongoing in Bonny? Is contact tracing ongoing? Shouldn’t the true situation of things in Bonny be ascertained before a lockdown is imposed since we have been battling an increase in illnesses and deaths without intervention for about a month? Why do we have to go from the pain of loss to the pangs of hunger that will last for two whole weeks? Wouldn’t hunger throw a recovering people into despair?

I suggest that for now only movement in and out of Bonny should be banned to prevent the spread of the coronavirus to people outside the town. And Bonny Island should be studied to find out if we have gained herd immunity. According to MIT Technology Review: “If the virus keeps spreading, eventually so many people will have been infected and (if they survive) become immune that the outbreak will fizzle out on its own as the germ finds it harder and harder to find a susceptible host. This phenomenon is known as herd immunity.”

Also, a way for essential items to get into Bonny should be decided upon. Farms are lacking here, so produce come from outside the Island.

Ordinary people in Bonny have been through a lot since a country-wide lockdown was imposed. We have been worried about where our next meal will come from, we have been sick, we have mourned. Please, Governor Wike, let the best measures to improve the situation in Bonny be deliberated upon. Let us, ordinary people, go on with our lives.

Source: The Port City News