COVID-19: Lagos is overwhelmed — NMA

…LASG must engage Lagosians to comply with prevention guidelines — AMLSN

By Sola Ogundipe & Chioma Obinna

As the wave of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to sweep across Nigeria, concerns are mounting over the pathway of the infection in Lagos State in particular.

Since the country recorded the  index case in February 2020, the number of positive cases has been rising steadily in Lagos  even as millions of Nigerians are desperate to be tested for the deadly viral infection.

On Saturday, 20th of June 2020, Lagos recorded 230 new positive cases out of the total of 661 recorded for the day. in 14 states. A total of 6,848 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Lagos out of the 19,808 nationwide.

The update brought the total number of laboratory confirmed COVID-19 cases nationwide to 19,808 with 8,407 in Lagos.

Good Health Weekly investigations show that the  number of deaths from COVID-19 has continued to grow in the state.  For instance, in less than 24 hours, Lagos recorded 15 deaths. Out of the 19 deaths recorded in on Saturday, Lagos had  15. Lagos also accounted for 123 of the 506 deaths recorded in 35 states and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.

According to the Chairman of the  Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, PTF,  11  Local Government Areas, LGAs, in Lagos State are among the 20 LGAs in the  that account for 60 percent of the total  COVID-19 cases nationwide.

The LGAs in question are: Mainland, Mushin, Eti-Osa, Alimosho, Kosofe, Ikeja, Oshodi/Isolo, Apapa, Amuwo Odofin, Lagos Island and Surulere.

In Lagos, concerns have also been expressed over the failure of the state government to enforce safety protocols it put in place.

Currently in Lagos, social distancing is not enforced. Worse still, some worship centres remain open despite the restriction in place. Interstate movement is also ongoing and a significant Lagosians have shunned the use of face masks.

Among other challenges in the containment efforts in the State is the fact that most people who test positive refuse to be treated in the isolation centres.

Sadly, the few that go to these isolation centres, present late, and some of them don’t make it.

Only recently, the State Commissioner for Health confirmed COVID-19 patients who apparently infect unsuspecting Lagosians in their various communities.

Runaway positive patients causing increase in cases — Prof Akin Abayomi, Lagos State Commissioner for Health

According to Abayomi,  the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the state is as a result of the  majority of the people who test positive running into hiding out of the fear of being taken to the isolation centres for treatment.

Further, Abayomi said that  majority of  the COVID-19 related deaths in Lagos were  patients who presented late and those who died on their way to the hospital or in the private health  facilities.

“Some of the people who tested positive do not answer their calls while others sometimes shut their doors or leave their environments to avoid being admitted.

“There is also a situation that we experience when we test people, sometimes they find it difficult to find them. The ambulances would go into a community, people would flee their homes, and they make it difficult for us to find them,” Abayomi narrated during one of his COVID-19 press briefing in Lagos,” he remarked.

Lagos is overwhelmed — Prof Innocent Ujah, NMA President

For the National President, Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, Professor Innocent Ujah, Lagos appears to be the most prepared state and has accepted the challenges of the pandemic but unfortunately, the state is getting overwhelmed by the number of cases.

Ujah said there is need to continue to encourage the state Governor, the Commissioner for Health and the Team of health care professionals.

He added that the health workers must be motivated both by the provision of Personal Protective Equipment, PPE, and payment of handsome hazard allowances and other incentives.”

Govt must  engage Lagosians to comply with prevention guidelines — Dr Casmier Ifeanyi  Renowned Medical Lab Scientist

Reacting to the situation in Lagos, a renowned Medical Laboratory Scientist, Dr Casmir Ifeanyi affirmed that the Lagos State government must identify the factors at play in the spread of the COVID-19 infection, noting that, identifying and dealing with these factors holds the key to reducing the infection rate in the state.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Why Nigeria is discharging patients after 1 negative test

Ifeanyi, who said Lagosians should applaud the State Governor,  Babajide Sanwu-Olu for a good job in combating  the virus, however said the continued increase in positive cases in Lagos and  other parts of the country provided serious cause for worry.

Ifeanyi said at all times since the reported index case for COVID-19 was reported in Lagos, the state has remained in the lead and is rightly dubbed the epicentre for the pandemic in Nigeria.

Ifeanyi blamed the increasing rate of infection in Lagos state and Nigeria at large on failure to enforce the restriction on interstate movement which he said was a major contributor to increasing cases nationwide.

“Certainly, something is amiss. The failed enforcement of the restriction on Interstate movement is a major contributory factor to the ever increasing reported COVID-19 positive cases across the country including Lagos. The virus does not move. Folks move, and that continues to fuel the spread of the virus.

“Another factor behind the unabated spread of COVID-19 in Lagos State is ineffective risk communication.  The buy-in of the populace is indispensable in the fight.

“The average person on the street is aware of COVID-19 pandemic, but, trust deficits exist, they do not believe the stories being banded around by government agents.  We have to change the strategy so as to secure the buy-in of the people, and Lagosians in particular.”

Ifeanyi said the most appropriate stakeholders on sectoral basis were not being engaged in Lagos, and that the Lagos State government needs to  ramp up the issues about risk communication and carry everyone along regarding the efforts at combating COVID-19 .

“Following the eased lockdown, life has since returned to normal in most parts of Lagos.  The only thing not happening at this particular time is that worship centres and schools are still closed.   Regrettably, all that the people know is just the conventional information about respiratory hygiene, hand hygiene and the general non pharmaceutical interventions.

“People in Lagos are in significant breach of the COVID-19 infection prevention protocol, so the message must go down to the people, the target must be the individual who the state government must do all to be in substantial or full compliance with the  protocol. That is the magic wand to reducing the spread COVID-19 infection in Lagos and Nigeria. “

According to Ifeanyi,  the state government must begin to aggressively engage the leaderships of the major industrial sectors such as the leadership of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, and related groups.

“It’s very important because the way people move around in Lagos is one major reason for the continued spread of the virus in Lagos. The  taxi driver and all commercial vehicle drivers need training on how to manage their passengers, on the criteria for boarding  and while onboard, passengers and  ultimately on how to  periodically decontaminate their vehicles. This is not being practised or enforced.

Ifeanyi said in most of the busy markets in Lagos, the leaderships is not trained or engaged in the efforts at combating COVID-19. He argused that for positive change to  happen, they need to be charged with the responsibility of ensuring compliance with all the COVID-19 protocols in their sectoral domain.

New Faculties of Pharmacy should be set up— Pharm Olumide Akintayo, Renowned Pharmacist

In the view of  a renowned pharmacist and former National President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Olumide Akintayo, “Lagos state needs to set up new Faculties of Pharmacy and other health care options to ground the Health System in the philosophy of International best practices.”

Akintayo stated that everything  comes down to delays in closing down ports of entry.

“Fundamentally, stifling the development of competences and capacities in the value chain of the Health System remains a key challenge.

An example is the suspension of the consultancy cadre for Pharmacists in the public sector in Lagos state,” he noted.


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