May 3, 2021

COVID-19 3rd wave: Lagos places facility centres on red alert

Releases fresh safety guidelines for travelers

Calls for adherence to safety protocols

By Olasunkanmi Akoni

As part of measures to prevent the third wave of COVID-19 pandemic, Lagos State Government has placed all emergency facilities in the state on high alert to pick up early trends that may suggest a fresh wave.

This came as it announced more stringent safety guidelines to protect the residents of Lagos State from an impending third wave.

The state Commissioner for Health, Professor Akin Abayomi made the remarks on Monday, while announcing the impending third wave of the pandemic and the measures taken for the preventions in the state.

Abayomi, said the measures became expedient as the trigger for the third wave in Lagos is likely to be the importation of new COVID strains from inbound travelers.

According to him, on the authority of Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who is the Incident Commander, immediate measures to fully enforce the protocol just announced by the Federal Government would be adopted for every inbound person which includes banning entry to non-Nigerian passengers who have been in Brazil, India or Turkey in the last fortnight due to concerns over the spread of coronavirus in those three nations.

Currently, countries like India, Brazil, Argentina, Iraq, Qatar, Peru, and Uruguay are being ravaged by a vicious third or fourth wave following a less active and insignificant second or third wave.

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The latest wave in India has been proven to be a result of new mutant strains that have resulted in a dramatic increase in sickness and death for two weeks running.

Abayomi said: “Lagos State is set to take steps to prevent another wave of COVID-19, following the flattening of the second wave.

“We are seeing a significant dip in the number of positive cases and deaths – going by the low occupancy rate in our isolation centers, reduction in the demand for oxygen, and the positivity rate that has decreased from around an all-time high 35 per cent in December 2020 to 1.5. per cent as at April 2021.

“It is important to reiterate at this point that passengers are still required to be in receipt of a negative COVID-19 PCR test at least 72hours before departure to and landing in Lagos State, book and pay for their day 7 test either through the National portal and/or the Lagos State portal

“All passengers must have paid for their tests before arrival in Lagos State. Failure to do this will result in delays at the airport.

“Nigerians and permanent residents of Nigeria who have been in those countries in the last 14 days will have to undergo mandatory quarantine for a week in a government-approved facility on arrival and all passengers arriving in Nigeria will now have to show a negative Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours of travel rather than the previous 96 hours period.

“As part of these protocols, passengers are to mandatorily isolate for the required seven days and will be strictly monitored through phone calls by our EKOTELEMED platform and physical visits to the passengers’ homes by our surveillance teams.”

Abayomi warned that anyone found to have either broken the rule or supplied a fake phone number or address in a bid to escape the laid down protocols would be identified and made to mandatorily isolate at any of government or Public-Private Partnership isolation centers or identified hotels for 10 days at their cost, in addition to a stipulated fine.

“As per current Federal Government regulations, the passports of the indigenous passengers will also be forwarded to the authorities for deactivation and foreigners may be subject to deportation.

“Passengers that are anxious to come out of isolation before day seven will be given options for earlier testing.  While in isolation, passengers will have access to our healthcare professionals and will also have our COVID CarePacks delivered, if required – at no additional cost.”

On September 5, 2020, the Federal Government reopened Nigeria’s airspace borders for flights into and out of Nigeria. However, the criteria for this were a mandatory COVID-19 PCR test done within 72 hours of boarding a plane to Nigeria and the registration and payment of another COVID-19 PCR test on the portal of the Federal Government to be done on day 7 after arrival in Nigeria.

The passengers are also expected to isolate within the period of 7 days following which they can only be allowed to move freely on receipt of a negative COVID-19 PCR test.

“If the result is positive, passengers are requested to isolate for 14 days during which they are enrolled into our home-based care strategy and have access to our healthcare professionals through our telemedicine platform, EKOTELEMED.”

He maintained that all the strides gained in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic would be lost if the state’s borders are not protected against the importation of new and mutant strains which could trigger the oncoming of a third wave.

“The commitment of the Incident Commander, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu to ensuring herd immunity for residents through the vaccination is unshaken and, as a government, we are exploring strategies to increase access to the COVID-19 vaccines to achieve herd immunity for our population – in line with global trends.

“We will improve our capacity to conduct additional analysis on all positive cases to assist us in determining the predominant strains in our environment. This, I am certain, will help us gather relevant analytic intelligence that is critical for planning and defining treatment protocols. We are also increasing our capacity to generate and manufacture oxygen.”

While commiserating with ravaged countries, Abayomi expressed the government’s commitment to protecting the environment and residents against the virus, especially as the state recorded less than 1 per cent of the population that have received their first dose of the Oxford Astra-Zeneca COVID-19 vaccine similar to India that have about 8 per cent.

He also assured that residents would have access to COVID CarePacks and if their conditions get worse, would be evacuated to one of the isolation centers for proper medical attention.

why warning residents not to assume the worst is over by going on without adhering to any precautionary measures urged them to stick to the laid down protocols of always wearing facemasks in public gatherings, washing of hands, and maintaining social distancing, even after receiving the vaccine.

“All facilities have been placed on high alert to pick up early trends that may suggest a 3rd wave while we continue to improve all our systems for any eventuality.

“The partnership between the Lagos State Government and the private sector in mitigating the second wave is well recognized and cannot be over-emphasized.

“I, therefore, would like all stakeholders to embrace this partnership going forward because this is needed in the prevention of the third wave,” Abayomi urged.

Vanguard News Nigeria