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CORONAVIRUS, A Challenging Time for Africa Hospitality Industry

As Nigeria Intensifies Efforts to prevent the spread of Coronavirus, the impact of the news of the most populous country in Africa recording its first case of COVID-19 case has been rather mixed with feelings. With many like our Distinguished Senators and Honorable Members at the red and green chambers showing signs of panic, the general public has been rather brave, received the news with unbelievable humour, with a blended of the utmost seriousness.

With cities like Lagos placing hotels, resorts centres on surveillance, the threat COVID-19 outbreak poises on the hospitality industry is enormous. Aside from the Airports and other transport networks, the next in line as major host to travellers from around the world and within the country are the hotels, followed by the restaurants and eateries.

Marred by rumours and fake news here and there, residence in Nigeria are finding it difficult staying in focus with the real news; though there have been increasing efforts by the government and the non-governmental organizations to keep the citizens informed, there is an urgent need for improvement in coordination and dissemination of information on issues surrounding prevention and management of the virus and its spread.

This is the time for the different Hospitality Bodies to speak up. I am yet to see any proactive efforts from Hotel Owners Forum to take leadership in this outbreak. Same for other organized national and state civil societies. The COVID-19 is a serious issue and calls for proactive efforts now, not redemption later. The industry will suffer revenue loss, no doubt about it, but whether it will suffer serious casualty loss is in our hands to manage today. There must be a conscious and coordinated efforts by both hospitality industry to cooperate with the health authority to manage this situation   

The message is, wash your hands regularly using soap and running water, use hand sanitizers or other alcohol based hand wash amidst other cautions of maintaining a fair distance between persons and keeping a high level of personal hygiene, the need to stay out of public places can never be over emphasized. With the global travel industry hit by nearly 7% over the Corona Virus saga, the global hospitality industry is sure to feel the impact the most.

Nigeria is sub-Saharan Africa’s first country to register a case of the virus, which has killed some 2,900 people and infected more than 86,000 worldwide, the vast majority in China where it originated late last year.

Though Medical experts had long expected the arrival of the deadly virus in sub-Saharan Africa, pointing to the deep trade and travel ties between China and a number of countries on the continent, Nigeria seems to be the first to register Africa’s first case. The question now is; is Nigeria and other African countries ready to face the challenges of these deadly virus?

In mid-February, health ministers of the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) converged in Mali’s capital, Bamako, to develop a regional preparedness plan and boost cross-border collaboration to promote rapid diagnosis and containment. Preventing it at the border seems the first step to take, however, one would worry how Nigeria and her sister African countries would manage, should the virus slips into the cities? With the very high population density cities, it becomes even more important that proactive measures be taken to stop this deadly virus from entering the nooks and crannies of any African cities.

With all efforts pointing to all raising the ante on personal hygiene, opening an information Blackboard on COVID-19 to keep us all informed. Please follow us on Facebook Instagram and twitter for updates on how the hospitality industry is going about keeping both workers and guests safe during these very challenging times.

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