By Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu
Lagos State continues to be the epicenter of the Coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria. As of the 29th of January 2021, Lagos State had recorded a total of 47,871 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Of this number, 34,094 have recovered in community, while 9,856 are currently active in community. Over the last 12 months, about 3,988 COVID-related patients have been admitted into the various care centres across the State; with a registered fatality rate of approximately 0.63% (301 deaths).
Currently, Lagos State has 21 private and 4 public health laboratories accredited for Covid-19 testing. So far, a total of 316,801 samples have been tested, with 47,871 diagnosed as Positive.
The test positivity ratio for January 2021 is 24%, which means that one out of every four tests returns positive. This is the highest monthly average recorded in the last six months.
It should be stressed that testing is free at all Lagos State public health laboratories, for all persons who fall within the case definition—that is, have symptoms such as fever, cough, cold, inability to smell or taste, headaches or general body weakness—or those who have come into close contact with anyone with any of these symptoms. Testing at our public health facilities will continue to remain free but cannot be used for travel purposes. Anyone wishing to test as a requirement for either outbound or inbound travel or other work-related requirements must do so at any of the 21 private laboratories accredited by Lagos State for COVID testing.
The Lagos State Government established a telemedicine service, EKOTELEMED, for patients who are either asymptomatic or have mild symptoms that do not require admission, and can therefore be managed in the comfort of their homes.
EKOTELEMED is manned by well-trained medical personnel, and is available on a toll-free line, 08000EKOMED (08000356633). The State Government would like to encourage as many people as possible, whose cases fall in the asymptomatic or mild category, to take advantage of this service.
So far about 5,000 patients have been reached through EKOTELEMED, and more than a thousand care packs delivered to patients in the Home-based care program.
The Government wishes to reiterate that Oxygen is free at all Lagos State-owned Covid-19 Treatment Centers. The Lagos State Government does not charge for the use of Oxygen in its Centers.
Considering that oxygen demand has spiked to between 300 and 400 cylinders per day across state-owned treatment facilities, the Government is working hard to ensure that availability and supply are very easily able to meet and even surpass this demand. To this end, a second oxygen plant is under construction at the Gbagada General Hospital, and will come on-stream within the next seven days. It is expected that this will boost the in-house capacity and availability of oxygen across all State Government managed treatment centers.
FG TREATMENT CENTERS GRANT
In view of the rising profile of the coronavirus disease due to the mutating variants now being discovered globally; and to shore up our containment and management capacity, I have approved the sum of Two Hundred Million Naira (N200,000,000) to support the ongoing patient management and treatment efforts of two Federal Government Treatment Centers in our state. To this end, LUTH will be receiving the sum of One Hundred and Fifty Million Naira and the Federal Medical Center, Ebute Metta will be receiving Fifty Million Naira. These sums will be disbursed on Monday, February 1.
3 The State Government is aware of numerous international claims that the broad spectrum anti-parasitic agent/medication Ivermectin has shown some efficacy in acting as a sustained prophylaxis in containing/inhibiting the causative virus in SARS-CoV-2. While this medication has not yet been approved for the broad treatment of the Coronavirus disease, the State Government has however taken the bold step of ensuring we have adequate stocks of Ivermectin, which will be initially deployed in a short clinical trial to ascertain its efficiency in our population to prevent and treat COVID-19 infection.
The Lagos State Government is aware that the Federal Government is expecting its first batch of vaccines (Pfizer) from the Covax Facility in February, and that Lagos State’s status as the epicentre of the pandemic in Nigeria will be duly considered in the distribution plan.
At the moment the State Government is finalizing its own vaccine strategy; while at the same time keeping a close eye on ongoing vaccine research, development and clinical trials. It is also in constant engagement with all the relevant stakeholders in that space, in the public and private sectors.
As the vaccines become available in Lagos State they will be prioritized to the people who need them the most: frontline health workers, people with co-morbidities (medically vulnerable), the elderly (aged 65 and above, and subsequently, those aged between 50 and 65), and essential workers.
While aligning with the national strategy for deployment of the vaccines, in these early days, Lagos State will also continue to scale up the capacity to flatten the infection curve, and to minimize the fatality rate, through testing and treatment.
The Government also acknowledges its responsibility to ensure that:
1. Lagosians are protected from price-gouging and other forms of exploitation.
2. The integrity of the vaccines is kept intact along the entire supply and distribution chain.
3. Approved dosages are complied with.
4. That a post vaccination adverse event monitoring strategy is followed diligently and according to normal protocols of pharmaceutical public safety.
These responsibilities will be faithfully discharged, for the safety and wellbeing of the people of Lagos State.
NEW TREATMENT OPTION (GBAGADA CENTER)
In keeping with governments responsibility as a public protector and in response to the growing clamour by patients and families who are willing to pay for Covid-19 treatment but would like to do so at a cost that is lower than is currently obtainable at private facilities, the Lagos State Government is making efforts to transform the State-owned Isolation Center in Gbagada into a fee-paying facility that people can elect to be treated at.
This means that while the Covid Treatment Facility in Yaba will continue to offer free and high-quality treatment to all persons, Gbagada will offer treatments at a moderated and affordable cost to those who wish to take advantage of extra offerings like private treatment rooms and more personalized levels of care.
The importance of non-pharmaceutical interventions cannot be overemphasized. All residents of Lagos State must continue to abide by the public health and safety regulations that have been issued by the health authorities, including the following:
1. Wear a mask everywhere.
2. Ensure that you wash your re-usable mask regularly, and also properly dispose of used disposable masks.
3. If you operate an office or business, insist on the wearing of masks before customers or clients can be granted access or rendered service.
4. Follow social distancing guidelines.
5. Avoid mass gatherings or adhere to published guidelines for congregations.
6. Practice regular hand and respiratory hygiene.
7. If you feel any symptoms that correspond to the outlined symptoms of COVID-19, get tested. Testing is FREE for symptomatic patients in Lagos State, through the network of public testing facilities.
8. If positive, self-isolate or report to any Isolation Centre and follow-up clinics.
The State Government has observed with dismay the widespread flagrant disregard and non-adherence to guidelines and protocols aimed at stemming and curbing the tide of infection. We particularly note that some event centers have been operating their premises outside the acceptable parameters for operation/usage and continue to be recalcitrant in this regard.
This is to sound a very serious note of warning that henceforth all those found culpable and in breach of the existing regulations and guidelines would be swiftly and decisively dealt with in full accordance with the provisions of the law.
Furthermore, and in line with the COVID-19 Health Protection Regulations 2021 signed last week by President Muhammadu Buhari, it is hereby directed that no gathering of more than 50 persons shall hold in an enclosed space, except for religious purposes, in which case the gathering shall not exceed 50% capacity of the space.
A breach of the provisions of the Presidential Regulations attracts upon summary conviction, a fine or six months imprisonment and or both. Our enforcement agencies have been appropriately tasked to ensure maximum compliance.
All Lagosians are enjoined to continue to observe all laid down guidelines and protocols issued by both the state and federal governments for the effective containment and treatment of the novel corona virus disease.