..Urges private sector to follow suit
..Lectures market leaders on hygiene
..Assures Lagos is fully prepared for the emergency
By Olasunkanmi Akoni
As part of efforts to further stems the spread of raging Coronavirus (COVID-19 pandemic, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu has ordered the state’s civil servants from grade 01-12 to stay at home from Monday, March 23, for 14 days in the first instance.
Sanwo-Olu also urged operators in the private sector to emulate the gesture of the state government by directing their staff who are on non-essential service to stay at home in order to effectively combat and reduce the pandemic in the state.
The governor made the remarks at a media briefing while giving an update on the management of COVID-19 in the state, held on Sunday at Lagos House, Marina, Lagos Island.
Sanwo-Olu also urged all top government officials to engage in social isolation while those who just returned from foreign trips are to stay in self-isolation for 14 days.
Sanwo-Olu’s address read in part: “It has become necessary for me to address you again, as promised, with an update on the COVID-19 situation in Lagos State.
Since my last address to you on Friday, March 20, 2020, Lagos has confirmed an additional six cases of the Coronavirus disease, bringing the total in Lagos State to 18 confirmed cases.
“First let me say that these confirmations are evidence that the system is working, that we are actively and promptly tracking and testing suspected cases. Let me also reiterate that all confirmed cases have been isolated at the Mainland Infectious Diseases Hospital in Yaba, and are undergoing treatment.
“We have also been working closely with the Federal Government, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the private sector, to halt the spread of this disease.
“I am happy to note that it is not all gloomy news. On the bright side, the index case, the Italian gentleman who was diagnosed on February 27, 2020, and who has been on admission at the Infectious Diseases Hospital, Yaba has been successfully treated and discharged after his blood sample tested negative to the virus.
“This makes him the second case in Nigeria to be successfully treated and discharged.
“In terms of the proactive measures we are taking to protect Lagos from the disease, we have shut down schools and issued instructions to our people not to congregate or form any gathering of more than 50 people at a time.
“I thank Lagosians who have obeyed this directive, which is in no way meant to deprive anybody of his or her freedom. Many mosques were closed on Friday and many churches shut down today.”
Directive to stay at home
He continued: “In addition to all the previous directives issued so far, I am now hereby directing all public officers in the entire unified public service from Grade Levels 1 to 12 – which constitutes 70 per cent of the entire public service workforce – to stay at home from Monday 23d of March 2020, for 14 days in the first instance.
“We will review this as time goes on. Members of the public are advised to refrain from visiting public offices and to transact as much business as is possible through the telephone and online channels.
“This stay-at-home order does not affect medical personnel, Fire Service, LASEPA, LAWMA and other first respondents and essential services.
“We are working to ramp up our capacity to take on new cases as they’re confirmed; other Health facilities will, in due time, be deployed to support the Mainland Infectious Diseases Hospital.
“We are setting up more facilities in Yaba, to contain a likely upsurge in Coronavirus cases.
“More health workers are being trained and retired health personnel are being put on notice that they may be recalled to serve in these trying times.
“Regarding our directives limiting gatherings to no more than 20 people, it is unfortunate that some of our people have refused to obey this directive, which was taken in the interest of all of us, after consultations with religious and community leaders.
“As I noted on Friday, in South Korea and Singapore, the disease spread largely because religious gatherings went on unchecked.
“I insist that this is no religious matter; it is simply a matter of morality and responsibility. Times like this call for a heightened commitment to doing the right thing. We are only as strong as the weakest links amongst us.
“I hereby order our law enforcement agencies to ensure strict compliance with this important Public Health Order on the suspension of all gatherings of more than 20 people.
“I am using this opportunity to encourage the private sector to take similar steps, to ensure that as many people as possible are able to stay at home for the foreseeable future.
“All traditional rulers should call their subjects and sensitise them on the need to avoid all traditional ceremonies and gatherings at this time.
“I would like to reassure all our people that there is no reason to panic. We are fully prepared for this emergency.
“Thankfully, the Federal Government has issued a directive that the Murtala Muhammed Airport be closed to flights as from tomorrow. All of our over 70 health personnel who have been at the airport for about two months will return to join the front-line battle to contain and defeat this disease.
“These times call for strict adherence to all the directives that are being issued by the health authorities:
Obedience of the simple rules of hygiene, such as covering the mouth while coughing or sneezing. No handshakes and touching of noses or faces.
Regular handwashing with soap and water, and the regular use of hand sanitizers.
If you feel sick in any way, stay indoors and call a doctor.
If you have just returned from Overseas, practise mandatory self-isolation for at least 14 days.
“Let me use this opportunity to send a message to the elderly among us, and the vulnerable, by which I mean those with existing health conditions, to take extra-special precautions and avoid anything that might expose them unnecessarily.
It is important for all of us to be vigilant. Our special Coronavirus Helpline is 08000-CORONA / 08000-267-662, and it is free of charge to call.
“We are aware of the economic effects of this virus. Our administration is working out how to cushion the impact of these disruptions on the people of Lagos, especially the poorest and most vulnerable in our midst. We will ensure that no one is left behind at this time.
“As I mentioned on Friday, there is no doubt that these are changing times, demanding changing behaviours and attitudes from us all. We must boldly rise to the demands of the times, knowing that this is the only way to avert the worst and guarantee a healthy and safe tomorrow for all of us. I hope you will work with me and my colleagues to keep all of us safe and keep Lagos moving forward.
“Again, this is not the time for fake and unverified news, especially on social media. Let me also appeal to the media community in its entirety to support the battle by helping amplify the guidelines, advisories and contact numbers that are being issued by the relevant authorities.
“There will be no let-up in determination to battle the Coronavirus to a standstill.
We are sure that we will win the battle, with your cooperation, and by the grace of the Almighty God.”
While responding to question from the media on the state’s government preventive measures put in place in market place, Sanwo-Olu said, representatives of the state government have met with market leaders in the state, led by Iya-Loja General, Mrs Folashade Tinubu-Ojo, on the need to keep social distancing as well as high level of hygiene across markets in the state in their own interest.