A Nigerian woman said she was taunted by traders inside a market in Aba, Abia state, South-East Nigeria, for wearing a face mask.
Some people mockingly called her coronavirus, she said.
Uche Nnamoko, who is into business development in Uyo, told PREMIUM TIMES she travelled to Ariaria market in Aba for shopping on Tuesday and left the market in shock because of the unpleasant experience.
“The traders were jeering and laughing at me and my girlfriend,” she said, “because we wore face mask.”
Mrs Nnamoko said her friend quickly pulled off her own mask and hid it inside the bag because of the shaming.
“Apart from the two of us, I didn’t see anybody wearing face mask in the market,” she said.
Mrs Nnamoko said she felt embarrassed by what happened in the market, but that the incident underscores the urgent need for sensitisation about the coronavirus.
She said the traders dismissed the coronavirus pandemic as “oyinbo (white man’s) illness or some infection that is only common among “big people”.
Mrs Nnamoko said it was amusing to see people within the same market trading on face mask and hand sanitisers, and yet the traders themselves refused to make use of them because of their ignorance of the threat posed by the coronavirus.
She said it was also amusing that people holding megaphone were preaching, telling the traders to prepare that Jesus is coming soon.
“My God, I felt like picking up a megaphone too,” she said, “to enlighten these people about coronavirus.”
She also had a similar experience when she boarded a bus back to Uyo. Some passengers who insisted there was no case of coronavirus in Nigeria declined to make use of a free hand sanitiser she provided inside the bus.
According to her, one of the passengers said gulping plenty of alcohol in a day would be good enough to ‘kill’ the virus.
The government at the state and local levels, she said, should get into markets immediately nationwide and start talking to traders about the impact of the virus and how to prevent it.
Government has to tackle skepticism
Confirmed cases of the virus have so far risen to 46 in Nigeria on Wednesday morning.
The two new Covid-19 cases reported on Wednesday occurred in Lagos and Osun states, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.
This is the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Osun State.
According to the NCDC, both cases were detected in travellers who returned to Nigeria in the last seven days.
Many people have called on the Nigerian government to deal with the skepticism and misinformation about the coronavirus.
A news report aired by Aljazeera, Wednesday, captured some ordinary Nigerians dismissing the coronavirus as not being real.
“If at all there is something like coronavirus it’s for rich men not poor man,” one man that was interviewed by the television station said. “So, we are free men and will continue to live free. That’s their business.”
Another man was videoed saying he would not wear a glove or have his nose and mouth covered with mask “because of a rumour”.