By Martins Ifijeh
As part of efforts to increase COVID19 testing capacity in Lagos, the state government has set up sampling stations in the 20 local government areas where citizens that fit the case definition of COVID19 can visit to drop samples for testing.
The Commissioner for Health, Lagos State, Prof. Akin Abayomi who stated this Sunday at a press briefing to give situation report on COVID19 in Lagos, noted that the strategy was geared towards bringing COVID19 testing opportunity closer to the people.
He said: “The idea is also aimed at taking work strain off health workers that visit several local government for case search and sample collection.
“The new arrangement would provide opportunity for people at the local government with symptoms of COVID19 to present themselves early for testing.
“We have decentralised the locations where you can have yourself submitted for sampling. So what we’ve done is to move sampling stations to the local government. And if you feel that you have any of the symptoms associated with COVID19, you can present yourself to this decentralized sampling stations “
While stressing that the facilities were not testing stations, but sample collecting stations, he said those who meet the criteria will have their samples taken.
“We are not just testing anybody, there is a criteria for testing; you either must have COVID19 symptoms to meet the case definition or be in close contact with somebody that have been confirmed with COVID19. Your samples would be taken and it would then be sent to one of our accredited testing facilities and those facilities will then perform the tests”, the commissioner explained.
He added that the strategy would help the COVID19 response team get a better idea of what is going in the community and also make the diagnosis of COVID19 early at the local government level.
While answering a question on the use of facemask for COVID19 prevention, Abayomi disclosed that wearing of face masks does not protect against COVID19 Infection but rather protect people around an infected person from the an increase amount of aerosol generated from coughing or sneezing.
“There is some theoretical evidence that the wearing of masks may indeed reduce the amount of droplets in the environment from the person that is infected with COVID19 and that is the reason why we are beginning to define the strategy of face masks for the general community”, he said.
Abayomi disclosed that the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu has given instructions that tailors and seamstresses should be commissioned to commence mass production of locally made face masks from a standard design that have been given to them.
He stated that the wearing of the home made mask is just to reduce the amount of droplets that may be produce and aerosolized by the process of coughing and sneezing.
“Tailors and seamstresses are empowered to produce and provide standard home made face mask that the public can gain access to and wear without pulling on the limited stocks of professional face masks that health professional require such that in a couple of weeks, we will be able to mass produce locally made face masks not medical mask”.
He noted that the State is not encouraging the public to go and purchase medical mask because it would deprive the medical community of the medical mask that they require for their professional activity.
The Commissioner urged residents to report early symptoms of COVID19 infection to dedicated COVID19 toll free helplines – 08000CORONA.
He added that early presentation of COVID19 symptoms by patients will help provide best opportunity for patients to survive the infection as it will give room for timely and adequate intervention and care.
“It is important members of the public are aware that the sooner we get to know about you and the sooner we can admit you. If you have mild to moderate symptoms under the supervision of our expert we may be able to prevent you from moving from moderate to severe and prevent you from moving from severe to critical case”
“We implore the communities not to feel the urge to stay at home when you have symptoms of COVID19 because you are more likely to survive the COVID19 infection under our supervision”, Abayomi said.
The Commissioner stated further that the two fatalities recorded in the Lagos was as a result of late presentation to the State facilities as they were already at a very late stage of their complications and eventually died enroute to the hospital.