COVID-19: 1,094 Returning Travellers Have Absconded From Isolation, Says Sanwo-Olu

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A photo taken on August 23, 2021, shows Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, at a press briefing on the COVID-19 pandemic in the state.

 

Over 1,000 returning travellers from red-listed countries – India, South Africa, Brazil, and Turkey – have absconded from isolation in Lagos State, the government alarmed on Monday.

The state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, raised the alarm while giving an update on the COVID-19 pandemic and how the government is working to curb the spread of the disease.

He revealed that a total of 1,073 inbound passengers out of 88,847 who arrived in Lagos via the Murtala Mohammed International Airport between May 8 and August 21 – have tested positive.

Governor Sanwo-Olu stated that as of Saturday, the state has identified 5,998 of the returning travellers and successfully isolated 4,500 people who arrived from the red-listed countries, while 1,094 have absconded.

He explained that the COVID-19 protocols on mandatory isolation were put in place by the Presidential Steering Committee to protect Nigeria from an imminent third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The governor, however, decried that Nigerians who disregard the protocols and abscond from isolation were directly putting the rest of the country at risk of unending waves of the pandemic.

As of Saturday, Lagos had recorded 70,563 cases, out of which 60,716 have recovered in-community and 4,387 are being managed actively in-community.

Over the course of managing the pandemic, about 5,551 patients have been admitted into various government facilities with 506 registered fatalities.

Governor Sanwo-Olu disclosed that of these deaths, 135 have happened in the current third wave of the pandemic.

He blamed the emergence of the third wave on non-adherence to the laid-down health protocols designed to mitigate the pandemic.

The governor, therefore, informed the residents that they have a huge responsibility of contributing to the fight against the virus.

He hinted that the state government has taken substantial steps to arrest the third wave in its tracks, especially with the increased monitoring and enforcement exercise by members of the Incident Command structure.

But Governor Sanwo-Olu warned against recalcitrance on the part of the residents which he said led to the higher infection rates that were recorded in the state.

In this photo taken on August 23, 2021, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, briefs reporters on the COVID-19 pandemic in the state.

 

Read the full text of his briefing below:

Fellow Lagosians,

Let me start by commiserating with all Lagos residents who have lost loved ones to the Coronavirus pandemic.

We share your pain and your grief. Every loss of life experienced is one too many, and the least we can do as a society and as a government is for us to redouble our efforts to defeat this devastating pandemic.

Much of the world —including the African continent — are now clearly in the middle of a third wave of the pandemic. From the start, Lagos State has been the epicentre of the disease in Nigeria, and that remains the case in this third wave.

The test positivity rate, which measures how many tests are returning positive, out of every 100 tests conducted, currently stands at 12.1%; compared to 1.1% at the end of June 2021, and 7% at end of July 2021.

We have identified that the third wave emerged on account of non-adherence to the laid-down health protocols designed to mitigate this pandemic. For this reason, it is essential for me to, once again, remind all of us of the huge responsibility we have to contribute to fighting and defeating this virus.

As a State Government, we have taken substantial steps to arrest this third wave in its tracks, most notable of them is the increased monitoring and enforcement embarked upon by members of the Incident Command structure.

Unfortunately, we have recorded severe recalcitrance on the part of the public, which has led to the higher infection rates that we are now recording.

The health and travel protocols and guidelines issued by the Federal and State Governments exist to protect and safeguard us all and the inconveniences that might come with them are only a small price to pay, to avert far more serious consequences.

 

Epidemiology Update

As of the 21st of August 2021, Lagos State had recorded a total of 70,563 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Of this number, 60,716 have recovered in-community, and 4,387 are currently being managed actively in-community.

Over the course of managing the COVID-19 pandemic, about 5,551 patients have been admitted into our various COVID-19 care centres in Lagos, with 506 registered fatalities. Of these deaths, 135 have sadly, happened in this current third wave.

 

Home-Based Care

Our home-based care programme, powered by the EKOTELEMED call center, has so far catered to 5,074 Covid-positive persons, out of a total of 20,716 positive persons who have been offered the programme. What this means is that 3 of every 4 Covid-positive persons offered the free Lagos State telemedicine programme have opted not to use it.

On a more positive note, I am happy to report that 94% of all the persons who have opted into the home care programme, translating to 4,787 persons, have been discharged, and no deaths have been recorded since it was launched in 2020.

As I have mentioned several times, EKOTELEMED has since become a critical part of our COVID-19 response, providing call centres services and wholesome management of positive cases that do not require hospitalisation.

All persons who opt to use the programme receive a home care pack, in addition to telemedicine access. We need more positive persons to take advantage of the programme. Please reach out to EKOTELEMED on our toll-free number 08000EKOMED (08000356633), if you have any symptoms associated with COVID-19 or have tested positive for the virus.

Vaccine Distribution and Access Strategy One of the major pillars of our mitigation strategy for the third wave is vaccination. We are seeing that countries that have vaccinated a large percentage of their population are recording drastic reductions, in the numbers of COVID-19 related deaths.

This is one of the reasons why we have not spared any cost to ensure that the vaccines that have been provided by the Federal Government are made available to every resident that meets the requirements for the vaccination program. Lagos State received its allocation of 299,992 doses of the Moderna vaccine on the 18th of August 2021.

This allocation is for the second phase of the national vaccination campaign, which will commence in Lagos State this Wednesday, August 25, 2021. We have developed an elaborate plan to administer the vaccines in 150 centres across Lagos State.

The increase in the number of centres is to prevent the gathering of large crowds and ensure that the vaccination campaign does not itself become a super spreader event, considering that the strain fuelling this new wave of the pandemic is a very virulent one. We will ensure that the administration of this vaccine is based solely on appointment.

Please, do not visit any of the allocated facilities until you have registered online and been given an appointment date. Register and book an appointment on the Federal Government’s vaccination portal, at nphcda.vaccination.gov.ng.

You can find the list of healthcare facilities at which vaccinations will be taking place on the website of the Lagos State Government. Our ultimate goal in Lagos State is to vaccinate 60% of our residents in good time. Let me remind all Lagosians that Covid19 vaccination in Nigeria is free of charge.

The Moderna vaccine is a two-dose vaccine, like the AstraZeneca vaccine that was deployed during the first phase of vaccination. When you receive your first dose you will be given a date on which to return for your second and final dose. Let me also reiterate that this Moderna vaccine that will be administered starting this week should not be mixed with the AstraZeneca vaccine.

What this means is that only persons who have not been previously vaccinated at all should take the Moderna vaccine. If you have previously taken one dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, please exercise patience as we await delivery of a fresh allocation from the Federal Government.

Travel Protocols for in-Bound Passengers Between the 8th of May, 2021 and the 21st of August, 2021, a total of 88,847 Persons of Interest (POIs) have arrived in Lagos via the Murtala Mohammed International Airport. Of the 88,847 POIs, 1,073 have tested positive following arrival.

As dictated by the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID19 (PSC), passengers from red-listed countries (India, South Africa, Brazil and Turkey) are required to observe mandatory isolation.

As of 21st of August 2021, Lagos State has identified 5,998 of these persons and successfully isolated 4,500 of them arriving from the red-listed countries, while 1,094 have absconded.

The COVID-19 protocols on mandatory isolation were put in place by the Presidential Steering Committee to protect the country from an imminent third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nigerians who disregard the protocols and abscond from isolation are directly putting the rest of the country at risk of unending waves of the pandemic.

 

Testing and Treatment

To help us better manage the pandemic, we have invested in strengthening the capacity of the Lagos State Biobank to sequence positive cases. Sequencing allows us to identify the predominant strains of the COVID-19 virus in our environment and provides us with information on how to better respond to the pandemic.

In terms of treatment of the more severe cases, let me say a few things specifically about the use of oxygen, which is a vital requirement for the management of the most severe cases. We have indeed seen a gradual increase in the uptake of oxygen during this pandemic, from the utilisation of 75 cylinders per day at the beginning of this third wave, to over 400 cylinders per day, currently.

With our modelling suggesting that we may be requiring even more oxygen supply over the next few weeks, we are exploring several ways of increasing our oxygen capacity, including partnering with the private sector.

At the moment we have two functioning oxygen plants, at the IDH in Yaba, and in Gbagada, and are looking forward to shortly taking delivery of two additional oxygen plants being built in Lagos State by the Federal Government.

Our target is an oxygen supply capacity of 1,000 cylinders per day, in Lagos State. It is important to note that oxygen supply is free at all public facilities designated for the treatment of Covid-19 in Lagos State.

We encourage members of the public to report any of our staff soliciting fees for the provision of oxygen, to the Office of The Honourable Commissioner for Health, and assure that appropriate disciplinary action will be taken.

 

Conclusion

Managing a pandemic of this nature and scale is not and will never be an easy endeavour. It is costly and requires hard work and commitment from a wide range of stakeholders and partners, sacrificing their time and energy and resources on multiple fronts to slow down the virus, and eventually to tame it.

It also involves efforts in the direction of maintaining livelihoods and ensuring that the disruption to socio-economic activities is minimised. As always, I must specially thank all the members of our Emergency Operations Centre and our Incident Command System, in addition to all our health workers in the public and private sectors.

Special thanks also to all our colleagues in the Federal institutions for their dedication and commitment to the management of this response. We are also grateful to all the Lagosians out there who have accepted the personal responsibility that lies upon us all to play our part in the efforts to tackle this virus.

To everyone else, I appeal for your cooperation. The threat of the Coronavirus is not theoretical, it is very real. We have been on the journey now for about eighteen months, and we are all witnesses to the immense disruptions we have seen on every front, not to talk of the many lives that have been lost.

We are all united in our desire to put this virus and the pandemic behind us as quickly as we can, but this will not happen if we continue to disregard health protocols. We also cannot afford to allow a sense of fatigue to set in. The consequences of this will be enormous. Avoid large gatherings as much as possible, avoid all nonessential travel, wear your mask in all public places, and maintain high levels of personal hygiene at all times.

If you’re showing symptoms or suspect you may have contracted the disease, isolate yourself and contact 0800-0356633 immediately, if you’re in Lagos State. We can make this third wave the final one. But we have to be deliberate about it. It will not happen by chance.

God bless Lagos State, God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Babajide Sanwo-Olu

Governor of Lagos State

August 23, 2021

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