•Cases hit 27,564, with 11,069 discharged and 628 deaths
•FAAN rolls out guidelines for air travellers
By Segun James and Chinedu Eze
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, yesterday dashed the hope of religious leaders in the state, when he announced that places of worship would remain closed until further notice, even as he disclosed that schools would resume on August 3 for graduating students.
The governor, who made this known during his 16th coronavirus briefing as Incident Commander, also said all public events remained suspended.
Meanwhile, the 454 new cases of COVID-19 recorded in Nigeria yesterday have taken the tally to 27,564, with 11,069 discharged and 628 deaths.
Sanwo-Olu’s decision is coming on the heels of calls by religious leaders that places of worship should be considered essential services and should be allowed to re-open.
According to him, all social and events centres and social clubs will also remain closed, for now, even as he warned that only social clubs in possession of a valid Provisional Safety Clearance Letter from the Safety Commission would be permitted to open.
Meanwhile, Sanwo-Olu has fixed August 3 for the re-opening of schools for graduating students.
The Governor said students in transitional classes, who have mandatory public exams ahead, are the ones permitted to resume as only day schools, as soon as possible for revision classes and examination.
He stated that students in Junior Secondary three would resume one week after the assessment of Senior Secondary three students.
He said: “For the avoidance of doubt, students impacted by this directive are those in primary 6; J.S.3 and S.S.3. Commencement dates for this opening will be announced after such schools have met the required guidelines and protocols and provision of essentials for both students and teachers alike. Our Tertiary Institutions are to continue their online academic activities which are at various advanced stages.”
On COVID-19 testing, the governor said: “We are also constantly reviewing our Testing Strategy, to adapt to the evolving nature of the pandemic. Going forward, there will be two categories of people who qualify for testing for COVID-19 in Lagos State.
“The first category will be those who need to be tested; who fit the case definition for testing and therefore actually require testing. This category of people will continue to be tested free of charge by the State Government through our public laboratories, and everyone who meets the case definition for COVID-19 will be tested.
“What this means is that if you’re showing symptoms of the infection, or you have had contact with a confirmed case, or have been exposed to a location where confirmed cases have been reported, you are entitled to free testing by the Lagos State Government.
“The second category will be those who do not meet the case definition for COVID-19, but want to test for COVID-19 simply to fulfil their curiosity, or to meet requirements to travel, or to return to work, or fulfill some other regulatory requirement. This category of people will have access to testing by newly-accredited private labs, but this will be at a cost that will be duly communicated by the Laboratories. The State Government will exercise strict oversight and control, to ensure that standards are maintained and consumers are not exploited.”
Sanwo-Olu made it clear that testing by non-accredited facilities was prohibited, adding that the government will bring the full weight of the law to bear on any Laboratory found to be violating this directive.
“We are similarly scaling up the capacity of our Isolation Centers. On Sunday June 28, 2020, Lagos State opened a new 150-bed Isolation Centre at the Mainland Infectious Diseases Hospital in Yaba, donated by the private sector-led Coalition against COVID-19 (CACOVID). This new Center brings to seven the number of publicly-managed COVID-19 Isolation Centres in Lagos State.
“Let me assure you that more centers are underway, through various collaborations with the Federal Government and the private sector. We want to ensure that we have more than enough capacity to manage and treat all of the new cases that will inevitably emerge from the increase in testing. We thank the coalition for their efforts in this regard.
“All bars, day and night clubs, cinemas, games arcades, beaches and beach fronts, gyms and spas continue to remain closed. Eateries and restaurants are to continue to open as normal for takeout only. In-dining is still prohibited and a few defaulters in this regard will be shut down and prosecuted.”
FAAN Rolls Out New Guidelines for Air Travellers
Following the approval that flight operations recommence gradually at the nation’s airports effective July 8, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has released new procedural guidelines for air travellers and other airport users.
The agency said the new Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) “is aimed at protecting all stakeholders and preventing further spread of theCovid-19 virus while travelling by air.”
In a statement signed by the agency’s spokesperson, Mrs. Henrietta Yakubu, FAAN said: “Departing passengers must comply with the following guidelines, which include that all passengers must arrive the airport properly kitted with their face masks on; they must also ensure a minimum of one point five meters (1.5m) physical distancing and disclosed that passengers would be inspected by aviation/port health personnel to ensure that every passenger abides by the rules.
“Those travelling with pets must get necessary clearance from Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Services. All passengers’ luggage would be disinfected before entry into the departure halls.
Passengers are required to wash their hands as often as possible, hand sanitizer would be provided for passengers before entrance, at the waiting halls/lounges and pre boarding gates, All footwear would be disinfected/ sanitized by foot mats placed at all entrances to the terminal building, amongst others.
FAAN said for arriving passengers, on arrival, passengers would observe physical distancing as they board the Co-Buses. Hand sanitizer would be provided in the buses.
“Physical distancing protocols must be observed at the baggage claim area, where hand sanitizer is also provided. Disinfected trolleys would be made available for passengers, All Covid-19 protocols must be observed while undergoing customs check, passengers would exit the halls and head straight to the car park for pick up, If you speak to anyone around, please speak to a properly tagged Aviation Security (AVSEC) officer, physical distancing would be maintained while waiting to be screened by personnel of port health service, amongst others,” FAAN also said.
In addition to the above guidelines, the agency said passengers are required to make use of the floor markings at the security screening area.
EU Approves Use of Remdesivir
The European Union has approved the use of remdesivir to treat severe cases of Coronavirus.
The announcement was made yesterday; days after the US effectively stockpiled the world’s entire supply of the antiviral medication. Its approval came after two major US studies showed that remdesivir can reduce the duration of hospital stay for COVID-19 patients.
EU Health Commissioner, Stella Kyriakides said: “Today’s authorisation of a first medicine to treat COVID-19 is an important step forward in the fight against this virus. We are granting this authorisation less than a month after the application was submitted, showing clearly the EU’s determination to respond quickly whenever new treatments become available.”
Remdesivir which is the only anti-coronavirus medication to be given the green light in the EU, was originally intended as a treatment for Ebola. It was approved in UK at the end of May, with health officials outlining that it would only be used to treat the sickest patients. It is one of two drugs approved in Britain to treat COVID-19, the other being a cheap steroid called dexamethasone.