Lagos state, Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi has announced that there might be another phase of lockdown in the state following the sudden increase of coronavirus cases in Lagos.
According to the commissioner, a resurgence of cases in Lagos could also lead to the reversal of the strategically calculated measures put in place by the government to open up the economy.
Abayomi stated that many of the affected countries around the world have found it necessary to impose a second lockdown and restriction of movements, which have sign ificant socioeconomic and security consequences.
Kemi Filani recalls that the first wave of Coronavirus started in December 2019 and swept through an unprepared world. The first case of COVID-19 in Nigeria was recorded in Lagos on February 27, 2020.
The commissioner mentioned that Lagos had become the epicenter of the outbreak in Nigeria with a record of 21,107 confirmed cases and 212 deaths from the virus till date.”
He continued by saying “The containment measures put in place at the time included COVID-19 testing, isolation and treatment, surveillance, total shutdown of the State for about 12 weeks and a partial shutdown of social, economic and academic activities for over four months.”
Abayomi, therefore, advised citizens against unnecessary movement and social gatherings, unless it is absolutely necessary stressing that travelling into and outside the country should be discouraged except when absolutely necessary, Stating emphatically that the COVID-19 induced culture of face mask use, social distancing, and hand hygiene was gradually waning among citizens, Abayomi called for the reinforcement of the adoption and adherence of various preventive measures put in place by the state government to tackle the disease.
In his words “Though we have reached our peak as predicted and are now experiencing a decline in the number of positive cases, this is not a reason to conclude that all is over. COVID-19 is still very much with us as evidenced in the number of cases being recorded in the community daily and occasional deaths from severe complications. The reason for the decline in COVID-19 cases in Lagos is attributable to a number of factors, including public adherence to safety regulations of physical and social distancing, hand hygiene, use of face mask in public places, expanded testing strategy and contact tracing, among others, and this is the more reason why citizens should not relent in this regard if we don’t want to experience a second wave of the disease.”
Abayomi has however urged citizens who fall within the case definition of COVID-19 infection to visit any of the dedicated COVID-19 sample collection sites in their local government or public laboratories to get a test done free of charge.
He noted that early diagnosis allows for prompt and adequate management and care, resulting in the prevention of transmission to other citizens; particularly, vulnerable and elderly members of society who may have underlying predispositions.
The commissioner stressed that COVID-19 testing for other purposes, such as traveling or as a requirement for professional reasons which are not part of the public health response, can be done at any of the 10 Government accredited private laboratories.
Abayomi said, “It is important to put in place the right understanding for the reasons to request and where to source a COVID-19 test. If you are displaying symptoms within the case definition of COVID-19, you can get a free test at any of the four designated COVID-19 public health laboratories or get a sample taken at any of our LCDA sample collection centers; however, if you require testing for any other reason such as occupational-related requirements or simple curiosity, then you may visit any of the 10 accredited private laboratories or book a test online on the portal covid19.lagosstatebiobank.com or the National portal specific for travelers on nitp.ncdc.gov.ng.”
He explained that Lagos State has a quality assurance process for every test that is done within its boundaries because COVID-19 is a public health care emergency, adding that the government would continue to ensure that testing and isolation if required, continue to be accessible and free to citizens as required.
“Therefore, it is important that we continually oversee this process because COVID-19 is a public health threat and the process of ensuring that people get tested as at when they need it and how it is being done is strictly controlled. You would recall that we recently suspended COVID-19 testing in one of the 10 accredited private laboratories due to some concerns around quality assurance. The laboratory has gone through a revalidation process and has now been allowed to recommence testing. This is part of the supportive oversight functions of the Government through the Lagos State Biobank.”
The commissioner explained that the state is also providing free of charge all social amenities, such as the EKOTELEMED service, the delivery of COVID-19 Care packs, sample collection logistics as well as monitoring and validation of all laboratories and isolation centers.
“We are doing everything required to maintain a high quality of testing and care within the boundaries of Lagos State. This is not the time to relax our guards, if you have any reason to believe you fit the case definition for COVID-19 or you have any questions, please call the EKOTELEMED toll free line on 08000356633 to speak with any of our medical personnel 24 hours a day, 7 days a week”, Abayomi said.