By Chioma Obinna
Despite the Federal Government’s decision to place six states and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja on red alert following what they described as ‘worrisome’ increase in COVID-19 infections, Nigerians have continued to flout the COVID-19 prevention guidelines put in place by the Nigeria Centre for Diseases Control, NCDC.
Investigations by Sunday Vanguard showed that individuals, organisations and religious houses among others are carrying out their normal activities without minding or obeying the guidelines.
The government through the Chairman, Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, had placed on red alert Lagos, Oyo, Rivers, Kaduna, Kano, Plateau and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja as part of preventive measures against the third wave of the pandemic.
The red alert was supposed to allow authorities in the various states to restrict celebrations and gatherings to a minimum but these restrictions are not followed. From Lagos, Oyo, Rivers, Kaduna, Plateau and Abuja, many Nigerians on the street are walking about without a face mask. Even in big hotels and other public places, large numbers of people are not wearing face masks. In many public places you will only find empty containers of sanitiser. No sight of sanitation facilities where visitors can wash their hands as was done in the first and second waves of the pandemic.
However, Nigerians have jettisoned the use of face mask and other guidelines including social distancing. Those wearing face masks are found in banks while outside the banks they hang them on their chin.
Again, findings by Sunday Vanguard showed that only public places like banks were still adhering to the COVID-19 protocols.
But like other guidelines, the use of a face mask has continuously been flouted by many Nigerians.
Studies have reportedly shown that COVID-19 is spread from aerosols and tiny viral particles. Unfortunately, people breathe in aerosols in crowded places like markets and buses among others and touch their face, unintentionally, many times with possibly infected hands. Medical experts say masks protect against all these.
Further findings by Sunday Vanguard showed that the government has failed to enforce the guidelines or prosecute defaulters to serve as a deterrent to others.
However, in Lagos and Abuja, the government of the day have put some measures in place to ensure that the impact of the third wave is reduced.
In Lagos, the state government said following a steep increase in the number of daily confirmed cases, with the test positivity rate going from 1.1 percent at the end of June 2021 to its current rate of 6.6 percent, it has started aggressive testing and sequencing of the samples collected to ensure they are keeping track of the different variants in circulation.
The state government has also directed that that apart from the accredited Health Facilities for the management and treatment of COVID-19, and the EKOTELEMED program, no other health facilities, whether public or private, are permitted to admit or attend to COVID-19 patients as part of measures to curb the spread.
Also, the Lagos State Health Facility Monitoring and Accreditation Agency (HEFAMAA) is providing monitoring and surveillance and has been mandated to apply heavy fines and other punitive measures on all facilities found to be in violation of this.
On travel protocols for in-Bound Passengers, the state has directed that passengers that do not provide the right details, including a phone number they can be reached for monitoring and an address for isolation, will face serious sanctions including fines and imprisonment according to our Lagos State Coronavirus Law of 2021.
As dictated by the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 (PSC), passengers from red-listed countries (India, South Africa, Brazil and Turkey) are required to observe mandatory isolation.
The state claimed that they have successfully isolated 2,386 passengers in Lagos State. Of this number, 15 percent have absconded.
According to the statement obtained from the state Ministry of Health and signed by the state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, various sanctions are being recommended and have already been meted out to defaulters.
For Foreigners, the statement stated that their permanent residency will be revoked and they may end up being deported while Nigerians who defaulted will be prosecuted to the full extent of the Lagos State COVID-19 Law.
In the FCT, there have been restrictions on mass gatherings outside workplace settings, with a maximum number of 50 people in enclosed spaces (weddings, funerals etc.).
According to the Acting Secretary, Health and Human Services Secretariat, Dr Muhammad Kawu, the approved gatherings must be held with physical distancing measures and other non pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) in place and enforced;
Other measures according to the Kawu: the FCT is observing the enforcement of mandatory requirements for a 7-day quarantine for all international passengers arriving from all countries, while there will institutional quarantine for international passengers arriving from specific high burden countries;
“Enforce temperature checks and “No-Mask, No-Entry” policy in all public settings, workplace buildings, businesses, places of worship, recreational facilities, markets and motor parks. Access to government and commercial premises should be denied for persons not wearing facemasks;
“Maintain restriction on resumption to work of government staff from GL.12 and below;
“Limit government meetings to virtual platforms as much as possible while maintaining restrictions on physical meetings including official trips, oversight visits and board meetings until further notice;
“Event centres, bars and night clubs shall remain closed until further notice; and Restaurants to provide eat-in at 50 percent capacity and provide takeaways, drive through and home delivery. “The nationwide curfew imposed from 12 Midnight to 04:00am remains in force”.