The National University Commission (NUC) through its Deputy Executive Secretary, Suleiman Ramon Yusuf, announced in a circular that universities should be closed effective from Monday, March 23, 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most undergraduates had no choice but to return home and wait for further instructions.
But rather than complain about the various strategic restrictions and inconvenience that came with the lockdown, some students have found ways to contribute to the fight against the pandemic.
Tolani Odukoya, a 400 Level Medical student at Lagos State College of Medicine, is one of the students who have sacrificed their time and comfort of staying at home to add a push to the struggle against the spread of coronavirus in the country.
Following the outbreak of the global health crisis, Tolani started working with the Lagos State Government as a response agent.
Through effective customer relations and management skills, he delivers relevant information about how the public can deploy safety and preventive precautions to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
Based on his experience, he was transferred to ConSol Limited to work as a COVID-19 Response Case Manager. At the centre, he escalates cases that need urgent intervention.
Speaking to HumAngle about what motivated him to work at the frontlines, Tolani said, “When the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Nigeria, I knew instantly that it was imperative for me to play a part in fighting this pandemic. It was evident that many other Nigerians were susceptible to this global crisis.
“As a medical student and one who is very passionate about medical consultancy, I am consumed with a passion to serve and join in the fight against this global crisis. I am motivated to seek and live with a solution-oriented mindset.”
Tolani said he had not encountered much difficulty in carrying out his duties. “This is something I do passionately. And the Lagos State government has put everything in place to ensure duties are performed efficiently without any constraints,” he added.
The major challenge they encounter is having to deal with frequent fake calls, he said, and suggested that to overcome this, a tracking system should be deployed to identify pranksters and fine them.
Folarin Alabi, a final year student of Accounting and Finance at Bowen University, is another undergraduate who has taken the fight to the coronavirus.
Folarin has high interest in nation-building, entrepreneurship and finance. He is also the Vice-President of Bowen Finance Society and Founder of University Network.
He now works as the Team Lead of Covidinfo.me, an initiative that makes it easier to find creative means of combating the spread of COVID-19.
Folarin and his team of four other undergraduates sought to assist the government in the fight against the pandemic with innovative technologies.
What they have come up with is a web-based virtual diagnostic kit that detects if a user is at (low, moderate, or high) risk of contracting the coronavirus. Its other objective includes providing standardised information such as precautions, statistics, and so on.
The kit’s structure was modeled from the World Health Organisation(WHO), Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Medscape and other relevant health agencies. The Information Centre includes precautions from verified medical agencies, an up-to-date statistical report from around the world, and relevant news feeds regarding COVID-19.
And through a HelpDesk, medical records are forwarded to quick response teams such as the Medical Taskforce.
Asked what prompted him to create covidinfo.me, Folarin said, “A distinct fact about coronavirus is its ability to spread fast. Guess what else can spread twice as fast? Information! The questions are: how well and how fast can people be ‘informed’ about the virus? This is what prompted me to create the platform.”
According to Folarin, over 5,000 people have visited the website and taken the test. He noted that this figure was equivalent to about half of the total tests conducted by NCDC.
Dawodu Joshua, a 400 Level Medical Student at Lagos State University College of Medicine and Co-Founder of HealthDriveNG, also works at the Lagos State Call Centre.
He makes use of a 24/7 Call Centre system designed to inform and collate data of Lagos residents showing suspected symptoms of coronavirus and refers them to the Medical Emergency Centre for isolation, sample collection and testing.
He was later appointed Team Lead for the escalation and case management of patients presenting Red Flag symptoms of COVID-19 to the medical emergency team for isolation, sample testing, evacuation and decontamination.
Dawodu believes that volunteering helps one make a difference as well as real and valuable positive affect on people, communities and society in general. “It gives you the opportunity to create change as a young person. Sustainable changes bring fulfillment and joy,” he stressed.
“Whatever you are doing to change the narratives, you might not get all the accolades but you are definitely touching someone somewhere with your singular act of kindness and compassion. I have continued to sacrifice 12 hours of my time every day,” Dawodu said.
Yekinni Raji, an undergraduate of Philosophy at the University of Lagos, is contributing his quota to the fight by battling misinformation through People’s Check, a fact-checking organisation established to “to verify facts, enlighten Nigerians on what is true with the sole objective of curbing the rate at which fake news is being circulated” during the health crisis.
He said:”As we all know fake news even before the birth of the coronavirus pandemic has been in existence. There have been numerous unverified facts on social media platforms, blogs that are being digested by Nigerians on a daily basis. This creates room for unnecessary fear.”
So far, the organisation has published 14 fact-checks and reached about 2,500 people. “With the acknowledgement of readers and decorated journalist, Lekan otufodunrin, People’s Check is performing well,” Raji assessed.