In all, the role water plays in our life and health cannot be overemphasised, given the solutions it brings to the table in combating the severe heat occasioned by the hot weather and the ravaging Covid-19 epidemic.

When some parts of the country witnessed the first rain of the year, many had hailed the development and heaved sighs of relief from the severe heat and dusty hot wind that had pervaded, with hope that the weather would subsequently become cooler with more rainfalls as the year rolls by. The reverse has been the case, even with the record of rains in parts of the country, coupled with the dusty harmattan, which expectedly ought to have made the weather cool; the weather has remained severely hot. The scorching sun makes the air blow hot during the day and even at night, there is no respite, as the expected cold air tends to falter. What then obtains is profuse sweating and uneasiness, characterised by quick tiredness and fatigue.

Geographically, Nigeria’s location in the tropics is reason for its hot climate. According to the Nigerian Meteorological Agency, the harsh weather condition being experienced in the country is due to the changes in weather pattern across the world.

The body and blood are largely made up of water and for these two to function properly, a lot of fluid is needed. What the body demands and deserves on regular basis in this hot season is proper hydration. We should take a lot of water, as it is not only an antidote to thirst, it also provides many health benefits to the body as well. Water assists the body in maintaining a balance of fluids. Water generally aids digestion, the transportation of food nutrients and the absorption of this, creation of saliva and maintenance of a constant body temperature. To avoid rashes, skin diseases and other illnesses associated with heat, we should shower as many times as possible when the opportunity arises on a daily basis. We should equally ensure that our bodies are always hydrated through adequate water intake to replenish lost fluid from regular sweat this season. Body organs like the kidney also require a lot of water to function more efficiently.

Here in Nigeria, if the need for the frequent use of water had not been in high demand before now, despite the hot weather, what would make the demand go higher has eventually visited the country. What does this mean? I shall explain.

On February 27, the first case of coronavirus disease, a.k.a Covid-19, was confirmed in Nigeria. That confirmation announced the arrival of the dreaded and deadly disease we all had been psychologically preparing for. In the wake of this Covid-19 discovery in Nigeria, everyone is on high alert and it is important that one gets updated on helpful health tips to curtail the spread of the disease. And in an address to his compatriots, Nigeria’s minister of health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire proffered some preventive health tips and precautionary measures against Covid-19. Dr Ehanire advised the regular and thorough washing of hands with soap and water, and the use of alcohol-based hand sanitisers. In his words, “Maintain at least one-and-half-metre distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing. Persons with persistent cough or sneezing should stay home or keep a social distance but not mix in crowd. Make sure you and people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene…Stay home if you feel unwell with symptoms like fever, cough and difficulty in breathing…Do not engage in self-medication.”

Nigeria’s health minister also warned his fellow citizens against the abuse of the social media in the spread of misinformation that causes fear and panic. Already, a lot of conspiracy theories, misinformation and fake news on Covid-19 have been making the rounds. Some say chloroquine tablets, garlic, ginger, salt and high ultraviolet rays can kill coronavirus. These have been countered as being untrue. Nigerians are urged to stay informed and updated on Covid-19 through official channels on TV and radio, including the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, alongside the ministries of health at the federal and state levels.

Some have argued that in crowded areas of Lagos, there can be no escaping body contact between people, particularly when in public buses or spaces, and this may likely increase the chance of the spread of the disease. Some public health specialists have cautioned people against the kissing on both cheeks as a sign of greetings and exchange of pleasantries, and that close hugs and handshakes should be suspended for now. However, contracting the disease and spreading it could be prevented at home and in public places when a high level of personal and respiratory hygiene is observed.

As advised by medical experts, when hands are not visibly dirty, the regular use of hand sanitisers is important because of the frequency of our contact with likely contaminated surfaces or objects. Apart from regularly cleaning the hands with alcohol-based hand sanitisers, there is usually a high tendency for the unconscious touching of the eyes, nose or mouth with our fingers, which can easily introduce the virus into our bodies, when it is already on our hands. As such, we should avoid touching those openings (eyes, nose and mouth) on our faces with unclean fingers to prevent the deadly virus from entering our bodies.

In some parts of the world, news reports have it that some individuals contracted the coronavirus without showing any symptoms of infections of this deadly disease. There are other reports of mysterious cases in which victims tested positive to coronavirus without any travel history to countries affected by the outbreak or known contact with infected individuals.

While the Covid-19 is deadly because it has killed thousands of people and is still killing many more, it is important to state that testing positive to it is not a death sentence but the invitation to immediate medical attention. In China, where the disease originated, there are thousands of survivors of Covid-19 who are living testimonies. They survived and recovered fully from the disease. Early medical intervention and treatment proved effective for those who had initially tested positive to Covid-19, as they were later certified okay after beating the virus.

There are enough indications already that Covid-19 is not invincible with early medical attention. Some health experts even say the human body is naturally capable of combating coronavirus but that it is largely dependent on how strong the immune system of the body is.

A very important issue that calls for concern is the sudden and indiscriminate increase in the prices of protective kits like face/nose masks and hand sanitisers since the confirmation of Covid-19 in Nigeria, making it difficult for people to comfortably and conveniently protect and guard themselves. This should be addressed by the appropriate and concerned authorities. Government should subsidise the cost of production of these items and make them readily available in public places.

Although there were fatalities, however, with regular public awareness and a high level of hygiene, Nigeria defeated Ebola in 2014/2015, and together we shall conquer Covid-19, if we adopt same approach.

Government at all levels must be proactive and citizens more vigilant, as we follow directives from reliable and credible information sources and health institutions. All public health stakeholders and concerned authorities must continually sensitise the public on preventing the spread of the Covid-19 disease. We must collectively raise the bar of our protective guards as we take measures to prevent the spread of this deadly contagious plague from wrecking havoc the world over.

In all, the role water plays in our life and health cannot be overemphasised, given the solutions it brings to the table in combating the severe heat occasioned by the hot weather and the ravaging Covid-19 epidemic.

Kayode Ojewale writes from Idimu, Lagos via