The Lagos State government has announced its readiness to strictly enforce measures aimed at preventing a third wave of the COVID-19 infection in the state.
Professor Akin Abayomi, the Commissioner for Health in the state, noted in a statement on Monday that all the strides gained in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic would be lost if concerted efforts are not made to protect the borders against the importation of new and mutant strains of the virus which may trigger the third wave of infections.
According to him, there has been “a significant dip” in the number of positive cases and deaths in the state, going by the low occupancy rate in the isolation centres, reduction in the demand for oxygen and the positivity rate, which he said has decreased from around 35 per cent in December 2020 to 1.5 per cent in April.
The trigger for a third wave in the state, he reasoned, would likely be the importation of new COVID strains from inbound travelers.
To this end, he said passengers are still required to be in receipt of a negative COVID-19 PCR test at least 72 hours before departure to and landing in Lagos, book and pay for their day 7 test either through the National portal nitp.ncdc.gov.ng and/or the Lagos State portal covid19.lagosstatebiobank.com.
He also said that immediate measures to fully enforce the protocol just announced by the Federal Government would be adopted for every inbound person, which includes banning entry to non-Nigerian passengers who have been in Brazil, India or Turkey in the last two weeks due to concerns over the spread of the virus in those nations.
“Nigerians and permanent residents of Nigeria who have been in those countries in the last 14 days will have to undergo mandatory quarantine for a week in a government-approved facility on arrival, and 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,” he said.
He added that as part of the protocols, passengers must mandatorily isolate themselves for the required seven days, be strictly monitored through phone calls by the EKOTELEMED platform and through physical visits by the state’s surveillance teams.
The passports of defaulting indigenous passengers will be forwarded to the authorities for deactivation, and if foreigners, may be subject to deportation, he said.
Professor Abayomi noted: “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 this, 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 has about eight per cent.”
He warned residents of the state against complacency.
“Lagos residents should not assume the worst is over by going on without adhering to any precautionary measures. Residents are still advised to stick to the laid down protocols of always wearing face masks in public gatherings, washing of hands and maintaining social distancing, even after receiving the vaccine,” he said.
“The commitment of the Incident Commander, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, to ensuring herd immunity for residents through the vaccination is unshaken and, as a government, we are exploring strategies to increase access to the COVID-19 vaccines to achieve herd immunity for our population – in line with global trends.”
He said all facilities have been placed on high alert to pick up early trends that may suggest a third wave “while we continue to improve all our systems for any eventuality.”