The coronavirus ravaging countries has not dampened the social life of students across various tertiary institutions in the country. Although a handful of managements have placed their institutions on red alert, while others are organisning enlightenment programmes to boost sensitisation, checks by CAMPUSLIFE revealed that many institutions are still ‘asleep’ and carrying out their normal activities.
Many tertiary institutions still handle the issue with kid gloves with sensitisation inadequate amid non-provision of safety measures to students and workers.
The novel coronavirus named by World Health Organisation (WHO) Covid-19, broke out last December in Wuhan, China. According to WHO, over 73 countries including Nigeria have recorded cases of the virus, with more than 100,000 people infected worldwide.
Nigeria recorded her first case of coronavirus a fortnight ago, following confirmation from the Lagos State Government, and another one in Ogun State at the weekend.
Many students who spoke with our correspondents confessed that the level of enlightenment was ‘very poor’ while students and lecturers show less concern to safety measures including use of hand sanitisers in restrooms and lecture rooms, wearing of face masks, reducing/stopping handshakes and hugs , among others.
At the Delta State Polytechnic, Ozoro, students go about their life indifferent to coronavirus threats. Similarly, the school management has shown little or no concern over the outbreak of the disease.
The Public Relations Officer of the Student’s Union, Miss Flora Ichiene, said: “In fact, nobody is saying anything about it. God is on our side, and coronavirus cannot come near our dwelling. No student is talking about coronavirus here. No wearing of masks or even sanitising of hands like we hear in Lagos.”
The institution’s Head of Department of Mass Communication, Mr. Bright Okoro, told CAMPUSLIFE that the management had not yet put in place any safety measures. According to him, the management is confident the school would not be a victim since there is no single case in the state, talk less of the institution.
For students of the MoshoodAbiola Polytechnic, Abeokuta, the Covid-19 still remains a myth, as most seem not to believe the virus exists. CAMPUSLIFE observed that students still had close contact with one another, hold hands, and engage in the usual handshakes and hugs. The lecturers too do not move around with sanitisers but mostly observe the regular washing of hands.
An ND1 student of Science Laboratory Technology, Ajala Dorcas, who uses the hand sanitiser said:” Coronavirus is just like an airborne disease. For me, I use sanitisers because I don’t have time to start washing my hands.”
A lecturer in the Department of Mass Communication, Mr. Adejare Adefolakan, said he washes his hands always even before the virus outbreak.
“I have always been in the practice of washing my hands with soap whenever I go to the toilet both at home and at work. I think we should begin to look at little things that counts which the society seems to have neglected by observing regular hand washing,” he said.
The Head, Public Relations and Protocol of MAPOLY, Mr. YemiAjibola, said the school was working towards a campaign and orientation to sensitise students on how to protect themselves against the virus.
Ajibola said the management aimed at providing sanitisers and original disinfectant in the classroom as well as toilets.
Meanwhile, the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State, has put on hold, a Chinese course it was running amid fears of a likely spread of coronavirus.
Its Vice-Chancellor, Prof Charles Esomone, made this known during a pre-convocation briefing.
Esomone said the institution had asked its Chinese lecturers who travelled to their home country during the yuletide to stay put, while those who were around had also been barred from travelling.
Esomone said the Chinese course under Confucius Institute would now be run online.
Similarly, there were commotions at the entrance of Yaba College of Technology last week Wednesday. The management had directed that those coming into campus must be screened, a development that created chaos as some desperate students attempted to force their way into the school premises.
An HND2 Computer Science undergraduate, Acumoren Philip Ekomobong, said Nigerians were getting panicky because of the killer Covid-19.
“One thing I know is that it’s real, but in the case of Nigeria, the panic is even more real. We just have to take precautions and not let our guards down. We are a very strong people and the way we panic is also unique.
“The good side of our panic is that we overdo the safety measures and inhibit the spread of the virus like in the case of Ebola. But then the bad side is that it may affect the mental health of many people.’’
Elumeze Choice, an ND2 Mass Communication student, also of YABATECH, equally expressed her confusion about information and misinformation bandied about, especially on social media.
“I heard that coronavirus does not affect black people. I also heard that alcohol kills coronavirus. We really need an accurate source we could believe,” Elumeze said.
At Gateway Polytechnic, Saapade, Ogun State, an HND2 student of Biochemistry, Ogundare Kafilat, admitted that many students were aware of coronavirus, yet the social life had not been hampered in anyway.
“We have heard that coronavirus is a very deadly disease and can be transmitted easily through body contact, but it is not affecting our social life. We still have the usual rapport. Infact, we now joke about it among ourselves. The management is also planning of holding a talk with all students, so we can be very careful and watchful,” noted Ogundare.
Olasope Kehinde, Mass Communication ND2 of the school, waxed philosophical.
She said: “Well, we just get to pray the more and be careful. The social life on our campus is still normal. Students are not avoiding themselves. We still hug, greet one another; and for the fact that the exams are around the corner, students are busy conducting group study and looking for means to pay their fees. For the management, I don’t know anything about what it is doing; I don’t even think it is doing anything.”
Meanwhile, the Dean of Students Affairs, Mr. Oladapo Solaru, assured that the management had not gone to bed over the matter.
“Management is surely doing a lot in sensitising not only the students but also members of staff,” Solaru told CAMPUSLIFE.
“The Health Unit of the institution has been fortified with necessary drugs and sanitisers while we are equally encouraging students to visit the school clinic if they notice or have any strange feelings. Like any other members of staff, I have hand sanitiser in my office.”
The scenario is no better at the Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto (UDUS). While some students are worried that many of their contemporaries are not taking safety tips as preventive measures, others, though a small number, have started covering their nose and reducing handshakes.
Although the management of the school organised a one-day symposium to educate students and workers on the virus, it has not in any way affected the social life of students.
The symposium with the theme: Emerging and re-imaging of viral diseases: The story of lassa fever and Covid-19, was held in the auditorium.”
MurtalaIlyas Adebayo, a 200-Level Student of Agriculture Science, of UDUS said: “As a matter of fact, I don’t think there is any outbreak of this coronavirus on this campus; and if it happens to be, I believe that the management will provide a solution to the problem because prevention is better than cure. All of us should be very vigilant and watchful.”
A 300-Level undergraduate of Law in UDUS, Ahmad Aliyu, is angry that some of his colleagues have discontinued the handshaking habit while others now wear a face mask.
“Even though we haven’t heard of any case of coronavirus in Northern Nigeria, I have seen some students who have reduced shaking of hands. Some have even started covering their nose. If your roommate sneezes now, they will joke that you should not allow anybody to transmit coronavirus to you,” he explained.
A lecturer in the Department of Business Administration, Dr. SaddatBn Adam, said he was not aware whether some modalities were put in place by the management to prevent the disease, noting that lecturers hardly exercised any safety measures.
However, Rafiu Abdullah Olamide, a third year Statistics undergraduate, said he hardly saw his mates either hooded or refusing a handshake with him or others, adding that the outbreak has not been confirmed in Sokoto.
“One of our lecturers once told us that if coronavirus breaks out in Sokoto, he would not come for lecture again,” said Olamide.
The issue of misinformation is also sparking concerns by students of Lagos State University (LASU).
“I heard the virus cannot thrive under intense heat, ” said Mr. Sulaiman Hassan, a lecturer at the School of Communication.
Hassan continued: “As a Muslim, I perform ablution and I do personal hygiene. Virus does not stop me from interacting with my students. Schools need sensitisation to complement the information being passed across.
“Once people are informed, even in local languages, the information would cut across all levels. However, the most important thing is putting proper measures in place as a means of prevention.”
A 300-Level student of the School of Communication, Quadri Sultan, who praised management for providing hand sanitisers in students toilets, advised that the management could go further by scanning people at the entrance gate.
“I have seen a polytechnic in Lagos where students, visitors and workers are screened at the school gate before being allowed into the premises. Some churches have stopped Holy Communion and holy water because it can easily be transmitted. Safety measures should be taken and we should always wash our hands” he added.
Sultan’s fellow student in the Faculty of Education, Gbadamosi Joseph, expressed his fears: “I am afraid of the virus because if China, with all her power and wealth, is having difficulties curbing it, what will Nigeria do?
“Nigeria does not have the necessary equipment to stop the spread of the virus. The best we can do is to help one another by providing sanitisers at public places,” he said.