Posted by Elizabeth Edozie on Apr 01, 2020
I am writing you this letter in one of the most unusual times in our history.  I didn't want, at first, to write anything about Covid-19.  But is there anything else happening now?  In the county, in the world, everywhere!  The lockdown, the fear, the economic collapse,  hunger in the poor who need to work daily in order to feed.  And we are yet to even digest the psychological and emotional scars of disrupted lives and livelihoods.
The Federal Government lockdown affects the two states that form our District.  So, life, as we know it, is has changed, and the new pattern is not yet clear.  The Rotary Centre is closed, and I can announce that it will remain closed until the Government lockdown is lifted.  This means that, at least, for an additional two weeks, District officers and staff will be working from home, and they will be attending to all your enquiries and requests as much as is feasible.  All our contact details are available on the District website and  mobile app.
First and foremost, we all must survive this crisis, complete with our families.  Please don't take unnecessary risks because you want to be a good Rotarian.  Follow all medical advisories issued by our health authorities and stay safe.  I am happy that many clubs have successfully been meeting online in the last 2 weeks.  If any club is having any challenges in setting up an online meeting,  please contact Rotarian Jide Ogunleye of the Rotary Club of Omole Golden, who has now been appointed as the 'District Virtual Meetings Coordinator'.  It seems that the Coronavirus crisis has given a 'shot in the arm' to our original plans to move the District operations into the digital age.
There is increasing evidence in the medical community that these two preventive measures are the most important in crisis:
1.Regular handwashing/ sanitisers
2.Not touching your face with your hands.
Handwashing should be as often as possible. Preferably after touching any surface not just cleaned.  This includes door handles, tables, keys, car doors and steering wheels, and, let’s not forget,  when we touch other people  -  even a pat on the back.  Always carry a sanitiser with you, and if you must touch something, like open a door,  use your sanitiser immediately afterwards.  Do not forget your handkerchief can be a reservoir of the coronavirus if you use it to clean a surface, and God forbid, you now clean your face with it!
The other equally important thing is not to touch any part of your face. Unless immediately after a hand wash.   It’s quite difficult, and needs a lot of practice.  We unconsciously touch our faces more than 70 times a day.  The main route of entry of the virus is through the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, and mouth. Many non-medical people may not be aware that there is a hole that connects the eye socket to the nose.  That is why, when we cry, we soon start sniffing, because half of the tears go through this hole into the nose. 
The virus needs to establish itself in the throat, entering through the mouth, nose or eyes. 
‘Direct’ aerosol transmission is possible, but not likely if we keep the recommended 'social distancing' space of six feet, which is the average hand span of an adult.  i.e. from the tips of two outstretched arms. What tends to occur however, is that the virus from the cough or sneeze of an infected person lands on surfaces around him, dries up and stays alive for a considerable length of time.  Or he touches any surface with a contaminated hand.  
Then, long after the infected person has left,  an unsuspecting person touches the table, chair or surface,  and unconsciously contaminates himself, and when next, he scratches his face he inoculates himself with the virus. This is 'indirect' transmission, and is now thought to be the commonest way of getting infected. Use of masks by the general public is not standard advice now unless you are unable to keep the recommended social distancing. 
For now, it is not a  major part of the public preventive measures. However, if you have any of the symptoms of fever, cough, sneezing etc.,  you should wear a mask and self-isolate until you can get a test done.  Call the Lagos State Government  or NCDC hotlines to get an appointment for a test. The system is overwhelmed now and there is a queue.  Isolation centres are being set up by the Lagos State Government and philanthropic organisations to cope with the demand. 
If you have any difficulty in getting an appointment,  keep calling, send a text, and contact your doctor for assistance.  While doing this, please stay at home and self-isolate.
Most of the cases only have mild symptoms, and Nigeria has been faring well despite our inadequate health infrastructure, with only 2 deaths from more than a hundred cases. 
So, we should have more hope than fear.  Like the first 2 lines of the verses of one of my late Dad's favourite hymns which reads:
Through the love of God our Saviour
All will be well........
Though we pass through tribulation
All will be well!........
We expect a bright tomorrow.
All will be well........
If you like a secular song at this moment,  “Lean on me” by Bill Withers fits in just well in these uncertain times.
These are the times when, we, as Rotarians need to be looking at project opportunities and ways to help the needy and the weak.  As the Rotary year is winding down, many clubs are low in funds.  But we should still bend over backwards, stand up and be counted in our communities.  In these times of uncertainty, with many members of our communities unable to earn a living, this is the perfect opportunity for Rotarians to do what they do best - service. 
As RI President Mark Maloney told us in his letter:  "We can put a greater emphasis on the work we do in our communities by helping our less fortunate neighbours cope with the effects of isolation and fear, or by supporting our health authorities to address this situation."
I am at present, looking at the District budget to find a way to give assistance to clubs in form of 'District 9110 COVID-19 Grants' for small projects specifically for the coronavirus crisis. 
These projects may address such items as food insecurity, personal protection materials, shelter insecurity and ancillary medical challenges. 
Details will be ready in the next few days.  So, watch this space!  The crisis like we have now will bring out the best Rotary spirit in all of us.
Rotary, indeed, connects the world.  
Please keep safe.  Keep hope alive.  There is light at the end of this dark tunnel.
My sincere regards

Jide Akeredolu
District Governor 2019-2020
Rotary International District 9110
Rotary Centre
8 Ladoke Akintola Street
Ikeja GRA, Lagos
Tel: 08023500880




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