Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, has said that Nigeria and the rest of the world will not be returning to normalcy in 2020.

He said normalcy may return next year, at the very least after the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic.

Ihekweazu and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo disagreed on this, as the VP was optimistic that the country will emerge from the crisis economically stronger.

Ihekweazu spoke at the “Platform”, an annual event organised by the Poju Oyemade Covenant Nation on Saturday.

Dr. Ihekweazu said Nigeria, like other countries, is being faced with a difficult reality that will take some time to go away.

Speaking the bitter truth, the D-G said “Every country is right now looking at the same challenge and how to get us back to some level of normalcy, but the reality is that we are going to live with COVID-19 for the next year at the very least.”

He said Nigeria has to start thinking about how to live safely with the virus, adding that it was obvious that some of the changes being introduced because of the disease were actually good things to have forever.

“The emphasis on handwashing, sanitisers, respiratory hygiene; my goal as the leader of the NCDC is that we continue this forever,” he stated.

“That we don’t go back like we did post-Ebola to an era of not washing our hand, not only will they prevent COVID but they will prevent so many other diseases from spreading, ultimately leading us into a better future.”

He also noted that the thing about mass gathering will be a big challenge for Nigeria and the rest of the world, “but we have to try.”

“Every business, every church… every religious gathering of any form, social gatherings, weddings, we really have to rethink how we do this in the short term,” Ihekweazu said.

“It’s a sacrifice we would have to make as a people, as a country, to get over this. It will be a challenging time, but this is a sacrifice we would have to pay — we are not alone in this, even the countries we looked up to are facing the same challenges, there is no easy solution.

According to the D-G, now was the time to build the country despite limitations and find indigenous ways to treat Coronavirus and make Nigeria recover on time.

He said Nigerians must bear this short term pain in order to gain the long term opportunity to return to “normal socially rich life we are known for.

“If there is one great thing that would come out of this, it is that we reinforce our personal hygiene.”