Why Lagos Won’t Relax Battle Against COVID-19

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Nseobong Okon-Ekong writes that Govenor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State is disheartened by the overwhelming non-compliance with COVID-19 guidelines meant to keep Lagosians safe

The Incident Commander of the fight against Coronavirus and Governor, Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu has issued a passionate appeal to residents of the state to have a change of attitude and turn away from the unfortunate public perception that the COVID-19 pandemic is over. This, he warned, is absolutely wrong and dangerous.

The Governor who is in isolation, having tested positive for the virus, reassured the people that he is getting better by the day, and that “all will surely be well,” while thanking Lagosians for their prayers and overwhelming kind thoughts.

He, however, expressed worry over credible reports that the entertainment industry is planning large gatherings, concerts, street parties and carnivals, in the spirit of the Yuletide. Information reaching the Lagos State government also indicate that night clubs have also re-opened in reckless disregard of the existing guidelines, and events centres are operating with huge gatherings without any regard for public health and safety guidelines.

This same disregard for Coronavirus guidelines, Sanwo-Olu said was also being observed with places of worship across the state, in both their regular gatherings and the special gatherings organized to commemorate this season.

The Governor said the overwhelming non-compliance with guidelines meant to keep us all safe is very disheartening, especially when we consider that the message at the heart of Christmas is one of sacrifice and sacrificial conduct; embodied by the Holy Bible in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

He reminded Lagosians of the significant message of Christmas, which implies a commemoration of this supreme act of sacrifice by God. According to him, “The least we can do in this Season is to emulate that spirit of sacrifice, by abiding with difficult but necessary protective guidelines, for the greater good of all of us. This is certainly not the time to lower our guard against the Coronavirus; it is instead time to step up our battle against this stubborn virus that has gripped the world for several months now.”

Revealing figures to collaborate his argument that the fight against Coronavirus was far from over, Sanwo-Olu disclosed, “We are ramping up testing, we have now recently surpassed the 3,000 tests per day mark, and we will keep raising this number. So far, we have performed 197,000 tests in Lagos State of which 26,000 have been diagnosed positive for COVID-19. Sadly, we have lost 226 persons (May their souls rest in peace). It is important to note that Lagos already tests far more than any other State, accounting for 25 percent of the total numbers tested nationwide.”

“It should be reiterated that testing in the designated public facilities remains free; the Lagos State Government does not charge for COVID-19 tests in its testing centres. The only test centres where there is a charge are the private ones, and these are for intending travellers and also those who seek to know their status for some reason or the other.

“All persons who are showing symptoms and fit the case definition for the Coronavirus disease will continue to be tested free of charge in the government testing facilities. Collection of samples for testing remains freely available in our sample collection centres spread across all the Local Government Areas in the State.

“The majority of patients are electing to isolate at home, but our public isolation centres – of which the IDH in Yaba is the flagship – continue to remain open to patients. We are working hard to ensure that all the supplies and consumables required are constantly made available, and we encourage all persons who have tested positive and are showing symptoms to seek care in our isolation centres.”

To show the level of seriousness that the state government attaches to the battle against COVID-19, Sanwo-Olu warned, “Do not seek treatment for the disease in private hospitals that have not been accredited for such treatment. He made it clear that all private testing facilities that are complicit in the allegations of colluding with individuals to issue fake COVID-19 test results will be treated as criminals and that the government will not hesitate to prosecute anybody found culpable, in addition to shutting down the offending laboratories.

The Governor made a honest assessment of the situation and concluded that Lagos State is recording an increase in COVID-19 cases in all local governments, while admitting that it is not peculiar to Lagos alone. “The entire country,” he said, “is also seeing an uptick in the numbers of confirmed cases of the Coronavirus disease.”

“Of every 100 tests that we now perform, an average of 10 turn out to be positive. This is an increase from the five per hundred recorded in September, but lower than our peak in August which was between 20 and 30 per hundred. This suggests the existence of active community transmission, and represents the very likely possibility of the emergence of a second wave in Lagos State.

“This second wave calls for a full re-awakening of caution and precaution. The complacency that crept in over the last few months as a result of our early interventions when cases started to decline from our peak in August, must now give way to an abundance of vigilance.”

Perhaps, many Lagosians will be happy to hear that the Governor is reluctant to order another lockdown of the economy of the state “amidst an economic recession we must find a way to delicately balance the imperatives of life and livelihood. With this in mind, the only solution available to us is to take responsibility for all our actions, and to understand that we must stay safe not only for ourselves but for the sake of the entire society.”

According to Sanwo-Olu, the state government has made an effort to provide information and base its actions of verifiable evidence. He said, “The data we have – we strive to ensure that our decisions are as data-driven as possible – does not warrant the introduction of a drastic lockdown; we can achieve a lot simply by modifying our behaviour in other ways: reducing the size of gatherings, complying with containment protocols, and applying common sense.

“The Lagos State Government is now sounding a clear note of caution to all residents on the importance of maintaining the guidelines that we have put in place to protect us from the ravages of COVID-19. We cannot afford a reversal of the gains we have made against this pandemic.”

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Revealing figures to collaborate his argument that the fight against Coronavirus was far from over, Sanwo-Olu disclosed, “We are ramping up testing, we have now recently surpassed the 3,000 tests per day mark, and we will keep raising this number. So far, we have performed 197,000 tests in Lagos State of which 26,000 have been diagnosed positive for COVID-19. Sadly, we have lost 226 persons (May their souls rest in peace). It is important to note that Lagos already tests far more than any other State, accounting for 25 percent of the total numbers tested nationwide

CORRIGENDUM

Whereas, a statement insinuating that the Hon. Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN) said a camera which he discovered at the Lekki Toll Gate must have been planted by “some subversive elements” was widely reported in the media last October 25th and 26th, our article, ‘Medals of Dishonour…’ on Monday, December 21, which was a research on topical subjects and personalities in politics in the outgoing year has attracted a Letter of Protest from the Hon. Minister. Of course, the #EndSARS campaigns was a watershed that touched on several key officials of the Federal Government and some state governments, including governors, and earned them a strong negative reaction by a large number of people. Despite, the anger of the public and copious publication of the statement credited to Mr. Fashola, we want to assure the Hon. Minister that he was neither singled out for embarrassment nor ridicule