- Lifts ban on worship places, restaurants, others
- Research shows students still at risk if schools reopen now
Tobi Soniyi and Segun James
The Lagos State Government, saturday, announced that it is reducing the number of isolation centres in the state, following a decrease in the number of positive cases of Covid-19.
However, the state government is retooling it’s capacity and preparedness to meet the possibility of a surge.
In the last two weeks, the state has consisitently recorded a decline in new cases despite massively expanding it’s testing capacity. While the state is reluctant to call it a flattening of the curve, it stated it was pleased with the development. Yesterday it recorded 65 new cases while the national new cases as announced by NCDC stood at 386.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who hinted at the development, also lifted ban on worship centres, restaurants and recreation centres, albeit with safety protocols that must be adhered for the trial phase of the reopening of the listed places.
Meanwhile, a new research has shown that the rate of Covid-19 transmission to kids aged 10 and above could be just as high as it is for adults hence the reopening of schools might defy preventive logic for now.
However, announcing the latest development, Sanwo-Olu stated that, “In terms of our Isolation Centers, we have since, last night shut down our Eti-Osa Isolation Center and will be shutting down our Agidingbi Isolation Center and moving all the patients there to our soon to be commissioned Indo Center.
“Furthermore, our Infectious Diseases Hospital in Yaba is now also gradually being reverted to its status as a hospital to cater to all forms of infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis, HIV etc. The CaCovid dedicated tent on the IDH grounds will however remain strictly for Covid-19 cases,” he said.
Sanwo-Olu also informed that in June, the government expanded Covid-19 testing capacity in Lagos with the accreditation of seven private laboratories.
“We successfully tested close to 9,000 samples in Lagos State, across the public and private sector laboratories, a 50% increase from the approximately 6,000 samples tested in each of the preceding two weeks. We believe that this increase in testing will lead to an increase in the number of daily confirmed cases of the Virus in Lagos State,” he concluded.
According to the Lagos governor, “It has now been five months since the first case of Coronavirus was recorded in Nigeria. Since then, Nigeria has seen more than 43,000 infections, and a significant disruption of social, religious, educational and economic life, like every other part of the world.”
Giving a rundown of the situation report, the governor said as at Friday, July 31, 2020, Lagos State had a total of 15,150 confirmed cases of Covid-19, with 10,835 persons, who had recovered and been discharged.
“We have sadly now lost 194 persons to the virus. This leaves us with 1813 active cases in community and 96 under management across various isolation centers in the State.
“Lagos State remains the epicenter of the pandemic in Nigeria, but we also, I am pleased to say, have set a national example in terms of the efficiency of our testing, tracing, treatment, and our partnerships with the private sector and the Federal Government.
“Most of our patients in Lagos recover under our supervision. We now have two pathways through which confirmed cases are managed: either through our Home-Based Strategy, or in designated COVID-19 Care Centres. Those people in the Home Care category are being supported medically with our COVID Care Packs, and psychologically through our counselling teams.”
He explained that such individuals were given “access to our telemedicine services through the State owned EKOTELEMED, and are also visited weekly by our doctors to ensure that they are recovering adequately and in a timely fashion.”
Consequently, the Lagos State government has lift ban on places of worship in the state. Muslims are to start attending congregational mosques prayers from Friday, August 7th, 2020, while Christian places of worship will open from the 9th August 2020.
Sanwo-Olu, who stated this during his 17th update on Coronavirus as the Incident Commander, said places of worship in Lagos must operate only at 50% of their capacity.
He stressed that churches whose main worship days fall on Saturdays, are permitted to hold their services on Saturdays, subject to the same guidelines as churches holding services on Sundays.
He disclosed that the reason for the decision was, because positivity has reduced in the state, even though Lagos State remains the epicenter of the disease in the country, adding a caveat that they could only open on Sundays for Christians and Fridays for Muslims.
“We must reiterate that places of worship are only permitted to have their regular once-a-week services on the designated days. For the avoidance of doubt, churches and mosques are not permitted to have other services or fellowships outside of their main weekly services.
“Places of worship are allowed to schedule multiple services, on their designated worship days, if necessary, as well as also encouraging as many people as possible to participate using virtual means,” he stated.
The Governor reiterated that some conditions must be met and fulfilled by all Religious Centres and places of worship that are planning to reopen. These include the fact that only regular services and gatherings are permitted to hold. Night Vigils and other non-regular programmes remain prohibited until further notice.
Sanwo-Olu stressed that attendees over the age of sixty-five (65) years are strongly discouraged from attending services and churches should consider holding services and gatherings in large, well-ventilated areas or outdoors, as circumstances and faith traditions allow.
He also insisted the policy of “No facemask, No entry” must be maintained throughout the duration of the services.
“Regular cleaning and disinfection of facilities must be carried out to maintain clean and hygienic environments before and after every service. Appropriate screening equipment for Covid-19 symptoms such as a contactless temperature check must be available for entrants into the facility.
“It is mandatory to provide hand-washing facilities and sanitisers at the entry and exit point of the premises. National emergency response phone lines must be displayed prominently on the premises.
“Handshakes, Hugs and “high fives” are not permitted at services or gatherings, and this should be emphasizsed by displaying appropriate signs prominently. The use of stationary collection boxes and electronic methods for collection of offering must be encouraged.
“The flow of human traffic in and out of these places of worship must be conducted in an organised and orderly manner,” he maintained.
In addition, the Governor has also lifted ban on restaurants and other eateries that will now be permitted to open for in-dining services, from the 14th of August, with the proviso that they maintain a 50% occupancy capacity, and have also obtained a Provisional Safety Compliance Certificate through the registration portal of the Lagos State Safety Commission.
Also permitted to reopen are social clubs and recreational centers with effect from the 14th of August 2020, on the condition that they have applied for and obtained a Provisional Safety Compliance Certificate through the registration portal of the Lagos State Safety Commission.
The governor, however, expressed his condolences to the families of those who had lost their loved ones in recent times, due to reckless and avoidable road accidents involving trailers and containers as well as accidents on the waterways, saying the wheel of the law would take its course and all those responsible for the senseless deaths would be brought to justice.
Meanwhile, while a new research has shown that the rate of Covid-19 transmission for kids between ages 10 and above could be as high as it is for adults, another study has also found that young kids could spread Covid-19 as much as older children and adults.
Previously, children were thought to have lower chances of transmitting the disease.
A study from South Korea analysed nearly 60,000 contact points from 5,706 patients with COVID-19.
The researchers found that the use of personal protective measures, such as masks, and physical or social distancing reduces the likelihood of transmission.
However, the researchers noted that children aged 9 and under seemed to have the lowest rate of transmission, but are still amenable to the risk.
The researchers further hypothesised that the rate of transmission for this age group might go up as daycares and preschools reopen.
Similarly, a study in the journal JAMA Pediatrics has suggested that young children had a viral load 10-fold to 100-fold greater than adults in their upper respiratory tracts.
The implication of this is that children are likely to be key drivers of transmission within their communities.
Another study from Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago has also backed up the hypothesis.
Dr. Taylor Heald-Sargent, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Lurie Children’s, and her colleagues analysed data from the diagnostic tests of 145 Covid-19 patients, who had mild to moderate cases of the illness. The tests looked for pieces of the virus’ RNA, or genetic code, to make a diagnosis.
The 145 patients were split into three groups: those under 5, those ages 5 to 17, and adults ages 18 to 65.
“Children had equal — if not more — viral RNA in their noses compared to older children and adults,” Heald-Sargent said.
According to her, compared to adults, the young kids had anywhere from 10 to 100 times the amount of viral RNA in their upper respiratory tract, the study authors wrote.
“This supports the idea that children are able to get infected and replicate virus and therefore shed and transmit virus just as much as older children and adults,” she said, noting that more research is needed to confirm this.
Interestingly, states have begun to announce resumption dates for students.
For instance, Ogun State has directed SSS3 students to resume on August 4 while Abia State said it was considering August 10, 2020, for reopening of schools to enable students in exit classes prepare and write their relevant examinations.
The decision to reopen schools was however welcomed by the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS).
NAPPS President, Yomi Otubela, stated that everyone including students, parents, teachers, and all stakeholders were thrilled by the government’s decision.
Nigeria has less than fifty thousand cases of Covid-19 according to figures released by the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).