Nigeria Monday recorded its first fatality since the Coronavirus which began in China went on rampage globally.

His family’s disclosure of the news of his unfortunate death which was made public said the former top hand in the PPMC passed away as a result of the virus after returning to the country from the United Kingdom.

Recall that an American who came through the nation’s land borders had similarly died . But in his case, a test carried out to verify the nature of death was inconclusive.

So far, Nigeria has 36 established cases of the virus, with Lagos accounting for more than 20. What this means is that the presence of the killer virus is not a scam as some Nigerians, given to the enjoyment of free expression, are positing.

From the records, a son of Atiku Abubakar, a former Vice President in this country, has tested positive. His family has acknowledged this fact. They are calling for prayers from the Nigerian people as doctors battle to save his life.

The daughter of President Muhammadu Buhari has similarly gone into self isolation as a result of a possible contact with the virus.

Meanwhile, an Italian who is credited with importing the index case recorded in the country has recovered after weeks of treatment.

It is to the credit of Nigerian doctors and the resilience of our medical institution that a man from a country where thousands of people have already died due to the scourge is still alive and well.

We commend the Federal as well as State Governments and all who have been acting as first responders within and outside the medical sector for their determination in ensuring that the spread of the virus is curtailed.

Across the country precautionary steps are being taken. Quarantine centres are being established while international flights into Nigeria have been banned.

Thanks to ongoing efforts to contain the spread of the virus, Nigerians are better informed on what to do in the wake of the outbreak of an ailment that is yet to have a cure.

Such moves, especially by the Federal Ministry of Health, have naturally improved the personal hygiene of the masses; and reassured the people that at time of growing threats to life and good health, the system is tenaciously standing with them.

Interestingly, Rivers is yet to record the presence of the virus otherwise known as COVID 19. This development ordinarily should make Rivers people happy. It means that the conditions which may have encouraged the spread of the virus might not exist here, at least for now.

We are impressed that the Government which had earlier embarked on the enlightenment of the people and set up a multi-sectoral mechanism for combating COVID-19 Monday read the riot act.

It simply announced that it was banning open air worships, and closing down public parks and nightclubs. Similarly, it announced that weddings and burials would not take place until further notice.

The Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike who made this known said it was the responsibility of government to protect residents from the ravaging virus, saying that monitoring teams would be set up to ensure compliance of the order at the local government level, and also man the boundaries of the State to avoid the importation of the disease.

This is how it ought to be.

Against this backdrop, we pat Governor Wike and members of his team on the back for coming up with the ban list at this time. It would most certainly help raise the level of compliance in the long run and help to save several lives which could have been lost.

Having said this, we are however concerned with the lackluster attitude of some Nigerians, including Rivers people, who are refusing to comply with directives issued to counter the spread of the coronavirus.

We think that it is unnecessary to disobey justifiable directives issued for the purpose of promoting public health, enhancing public safety, guaranteeing public security and protecting one’s right to life.

To this end, we find it difficult to understand why people cannot maintain reasonable distance between one another as specified at this time; why people should be cajoled to stay at home when there is the need for it; or why they should be reminded that washing their hands, using sanitizers and avoiding crowded places is the right thing to do as the nation fights the virus.

It is amazing that despite knowing the consequences, some persons are acting as if they love God more by insisting on their right to worship.

Known religions have passages in their scriptures which say that to obey is better than sacrifice. The same holy books urge the faithful to give unto God, what is God’s and unto Ceasar, what belongs to Ceasar.

We believe that religious leaders owe a duty to their followers to encourage them to abide by rational decisions which could impact on the quality of life that they live.

To encourage disobedience, ostensibly under the guise of religion, is an indictment on the attitude of religious leaders. In our view, no sane society which has a moral duty to protect the lives of its citizens can accept such a behaviour.

Those who are being asked for now to stay away from public places, including churches and mosques, are not being barred from practicing their religion or enjoying their right to association and free movement. This fact must be driven home in strong terms.

Where lies the faith of the faithful in our midst if they are given to the belief that their prayers offered without the guidance of priests would not be acceptable to the Most High if such prayers are not said in churches and mosques?

While we do not intend to join issues with anyone, we advice the people in the interest of our common safety and the protection of the general good to comply with directives that are in place for the purpose of preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

As the old saying, a stitch in time saves nine. This generation of Nigerians cannot afford to lag behind while efforts are being made globally to defeat the killer virus.

After all, the World Health Organisation, WHO, has warned Africa to be wary of the killer disease. With the current spread of the virus across African nations, the WHO warning is not an empty threat.