***Releases list of free testing centres
By Olasunkanmi Akoni
Lagos State Government on Sunday dispelled widespread rumour of plans to reimpose lockdown in the state, describing it as baseless, untrue.
This came following panic buying of foodstuff and other household items by residents as a result of viral rumour of reimposition of lockdown by the state government any moment from this week.
Also, recall that Sanwo-Olu, had last Friday, read the riot acts banning carnivals, concerts, and street parties until further notice, following the increase in coronavirus cases in the state.
Sanwo-Olu, in a statement, also returned the restriction that in places of worship in the state, no gathering must exceed 50 per cent of the maximum capacity of the venue.
He said, “This same disregard for Coronavirus guidelines is also being observed with Places of Worship across the State, in both their regular gatherings and the special gatherings organized to commemorate this Season.
“This is certainly not the time to lower our guard against the Coronavirus; it is instead time to step up our battle against this stubborn virus that has gripped the world for several months now.
“We cannot afford another lockdown of the economy. Amid an economic recession we must find a way to delicately balance the imperatives of life and livelihood. With this in mind, the only solution available to us is to take responsibility for all our actions, and to understand that we must stay safe not only for ourselves but for the sake of the entire society.
“We will not hesitate to bring the full weight of the law to bear on any person or organization caught breaching our public health regulations and protocols with regards to the Coronavirus disease.”
The state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Gbenga Omotoso, who gave the clarification when contacted, urged residents to ignore such statement and go about their lawful businesses.
While giving clarification to Vanguard, Omotoso, simply said, ” There is no such plans. We have issued guidelines that people should follow to keep us safe and sound. Lagosians are urged to obey the guidelines.”
On the free testing, the commissioner stressed that the state government had reiterated its call on residents to avail themselves of the free COVID-19 testing services offered at approved public laboratories across the State.
A statement issued by the Ministry of Information and Strategy, listed the four locations as Lagos State Bio-Bank (Located inside the Infectious Disease Hospital, Yaba); Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH, CHAZVY); Nigeria Institute of Medical Research, Yaba; and Central Public Health Laboratory, Yaba (Operated by NCDC).
While advising anyone with symptoms that fit the case definition of COVID-19 to visit any of the Centres for testing free-of-charge, the State Government also urged residents to call the EKOTELEMED toll-free line on 08000356633 to speak with any of its medical personnel “24 hours a day, seven days a week for inquiries.”
Though, the state government had earlier said it might impose a new lockdown and return other measures if there was a recurrence of high cases of coronavirus in the state.
This was contained in a press statement by the state Ministry of Health few weeks back, titled, ‘Lagos calls for precautions against second wave of COVID-19’.
The statement quoted the Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, as saying that many countries around the world have found it necessary to impose a second lockdown and restriction of movements, which have significant socio-economic and security consequences.
The commissioner, however, warned that “the continuous flagrant disregard of safety guidelines by citizens heralds’ danger and may lead to a second wave of new infections in Lagos”.
Part of the statement read, “The Lagos State Government has once again stressed the need for residents to strictly adhere to precautionary measures against COVID-19 infection transmission to prevent a recurrence of the situation that led to the lockdown of the economy.
“A resurgence of cases in Lagos may lead to the reversal of the strategically calculated measures put in place by the Government to open up the economy.
“The first wave of coronavirus started in December 2019 and swept through an unprepared world. The first case of COVID-19 in Nigeria was recorded in Lagos on the 27th of February 2020. Lagos has since become the epicentre of the outbreak in Nigeria with a record of 21,107 confirmed cases and 212 deaths from the virus till date.”
Abayomi advised citizens against unnecessary movement and social gatherings, “unless it is absolutely necessary stressing that travelling into and outside the country should be discouraged except when absolutely necessary”.
He said, “The erroneous belief that COVID-19 has been conquered and is no more in Nigeria should be discarded. Based on our data, this assumption is invalid. It creates a false sense of security among the citizens causing many to abandon the use of face masks and other safety measures and protocols put in place by the Government.