Monday, May 17, 2021

Lagos on high alert for COVID-19 third wave: Commissioner

A trigger for a third wave of COVID-19 in Lagos was likely to be importation of new strains from inbound travelers,the official said.

• May 3, 2021
Lagos health commissioner Akin Abayomi. [CREDIT: Twitter page of Mr Abayomi]
Lagos health commissioner Akin Abayomi. [CREDIT: Twitter page of Mr Abayomi]

Lagos authorities say all its facilities have been placed on high alert to pick up early trends that may suggest a third wave of COVID-19 in the state.

Professor Akin Abayomi, the state’s Commissioner for Health, in a statement on Monday, said the state was set to take steps to prevent another wave of COVID-19, following the flattening of the second wave.

Mr Abayomi warned that a trigger for a third wave of COVID-19 in Lagos was likely to be importation of new COVID-19 strains from inbound travelers.

He noted that all strides gained in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic would be lost without improved border surveillance against the importation of new and mutant strains, which may trigger a third wave.

“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.

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

“Whilst we commiserate with countries like these, it is important that we protect our environment and residents against this virus.

“Especially as we have only less than one per cent of our population that have received their first dose of the Oxford Astra-Zeneca COVID-19 vaccine similar to India that have about eight per cent,” he said.

Mr Abayomi said the state government had authorised immediate measures to fully enforce recent the protocol announced by the federal government for every inbound traveler.

According to him, the protocols include 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 the three countries.

The commissioner said Nigerians and permanent residents of Nigeria who had been in those countries in the last 14 days would have to undergo mandatory quarantine for a week in a government-approved facility on arrival.

“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.

“I have hence instructed that all these protocols would be made more stringent to protect the residents of Lagos State from an impending third wave.

“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,” he said.

He warned that anyone that flouted the rule, or gave a fake phone number or address to evade the protocol would be identified.

He said such persons would be made to mandatorily isolate at any government or public private partnership isolation centres or identified hotels for 10 days at their cost.

The commissioner added that the defaulters would be fined, while the passports of the indigenous passengers would be forwarded to the authorities for deactivation and foreigners may be subject to deportation.

According to him, the state will also improve its capacity to conduct additional analysis on all positive cases to assist in determining the predominant strains in the environment.

“This, I am certain, will help us gather relevant analytic intelligence that is critical for planning and defining treatment protocols,” he said.

Mr Abayomi advised residents not to assume the worst was over by going on without adhering to any precautionary measures.

“Residents are still advised 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,” he said.

Mr Abayomi added that the state would continue to improve all its systems against any eventuality. 

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