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Is Nigeria a COVID-19 Success Story? We Asked a Man in Position to Know.

Ndubisi Anyanwu has Portland connections and a firsthand view of how a developing nation is grappling with a merciless virus.

WW presents "Distant Voices," a daily video interview for the era of social distancing. Our reporters are asking Portlanders what they're doing during quarantine.

Many nations are having greater success than the United States at battling COVID-19. But the numbers in Nigeria certainly stand out.

The largest nation in Africa has a population about 60% the size of the United States'. Its death toll from the novel coronavirus? Just 533. In the U.S., that death total is more than 120,000.

So is Nigeria a success story? We asked that question to a man in position to know: Ndubisi Anyanwu, the country director in Nigeria for Portland-based nonprofit Mercy Corps.

Anyanwu's work is focused on economic aid. Before joining Mercy Corps, he ran a polling firm in Nigeria. Yet he has an on-the-ground view of how a developing nation is grappling with a merciless virus.

He warns that any trumpeting of Nigeria's success is premature: Many people there can't get tested, and others don't want to, because the virus already has a stigma as a "death sentence."

In this interview with WW Editor Mark Zusman, Anyanwu describes the work Mercy Corps is doing in Nigeria, and how social distancing can worsen sectarian strife.