Despite the emergence of the third wave of COVID-19 in the country, there is still noticeable poor compliance with the NCDC protocol of social distancing, hand sanitising and wearing of nose-masks among Nigerians, even as there is partial compliance in corporate offices and religious centres, LEADERSHIP Weekend has observed.
Since the beginning of July, 2021, Lagos State started to experience an increase in the number of daily confirmed cases of COVID-19, with the positivity rate going from 1.1 per cent at the end of June 2021 to 7 per cent at the end of July 2021.
As at August 1, 2021, the positivity rate in Lagos rose to 8.9 per cent. This is an 8-fold increase over the recorded figure a month ago. This has resulted in 4,300 confirmed cases in July alone and 352 admissions in its isolation facilities.
When LEADERSHIP Weekend visited some markets, schools, banks, hospitals, bus terminals, religious centres and some private firms in Lagos and Ogun states, it was noticed that while there was partial compliance in religious centres, hospitals, banks, shopping malls, there was total disregard for social distancing and face masks in most schools, markets and bus terminals visited.
For instance, at the Alade Market, Ikeja, Ile-Epo Market in Oke-Odo local government and Oyigbo market in Lagos as well as Sango and Ifo markets both in Ogun State, people were buying and selling without face masks there was no social distancing.
The situation was more serious at bus terminals as most transporters insisted on full capacity, hence, commuters were left with no option other than sitting tightly side by side, while not using face masks.
Some of the people our correspondents spoke to, said they had accepted their fate of living with the pandemic as there was no sign that it would go anytime soon, hence, would continue to live their normal lives.
Lanre Adesanya said; “The virus is not going anytime soon, whether we use face mask or not. I have my face mask in my pocket. I only put it on when I want to enter the banking hall or visit a supermarket. But aside that, it stays in my pocket. We have to realise that the virus is not going anytime soon, whether we maintain social distancing, use face masks or not. So, I have accepted my fate and living my normal life.”
A bus driver, Mr. Kareem Ajayi, said he felt the country had survived the pandemic and that there is no reason for him not to carry full load.
“Why won’t I carry full load? I don’t believe we still have Covid-19 again in Nigeria. And if we have, it is not among the masses. It resides within those in government cycle,” he said.
Meanwhile, most public hospitals in Lagos are yet to fully comply with the non-pharmaceutical interventions of mandatory face masks, physical distancing in public places and regular hand washing, LEADERSHIP Weekend findings revealed.
Earlier, the Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, had said the state started experiencing the COVID-19 third wave, hence, the need to take seriously, the non-pharmaceutical interventions.
Sanwo-Olu reiterated the need for everyone to wear face masks/coverings when out and about their daily activities.
“We have incontrovertible evidence that wearing face masks help in slowing down the spread of the virus, particularly the now more dominant strains.
“All establishments, offices, entertainment spots, commercial spaces, and religious houses are mandated to provide handwashing or sanitising facilities, and to ensure that no persons are admitted without the use of face masks. Proprietors of public transport services must also refrain from admitting non complying passengers into their vehicles. It is only by strictly adhering to these rules that we can stand a chance of taming this virus,” he added.
Despite the warning, a visit to some of the public hospitals in Lagos state revealed that there was partial compliance with the non-pharmaceutical COVID-19 interventions.
For instance, at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), a lot of people were seen without face masks, entering and exiting the hospital, without anyone stopping them. There was no provision of running water for people to wash their hands nor was there hand sanitizer at the gate. Same story at the Yaba Neuropsychiatrist Hospital and the Igbobi Hospital, at Yaba, Lagos respectively.
Yet, the Delta variant is spreading rapidly in Nigeria, Lagos State recorded an average of six deaths per day since last week. The state has recorded a total of 64,032 confirmed cases of COVID-19, since 2020. Of this number, 56,336 have recovered in community, 2,755 are currently being managed actively in community.
“Over the course of managing the COVID-19 pandemic, about 5,029 patients have been admitted into various COVID-19 care centres in Lagos. We have, sadly, recorded 390 fatalities in Lagos State, 30 of which have taken place in this current 3rd wave of the pandemic,” Governor Sanwo-Olu said.
Speaking on the measures put in place to curtail the spread of the virus, the state’s health commissioner, Prof. Akin Abayomi, told LEADERSHIP Weekend that the state’s testing capacity was close to 3,000 daily, adding that a lot of the COVID tests were done free of charge.
He added that the state government would continue to make COVID-19 treatment available and do all it can to win the war against the pandemic.
“We will continue to make adequate oxygen available for those that need it and we will do everything in our power together with the federal government to make available COVID-19 vaccines so that we will be able to meet the deadline line by set by the WHO and other health institutions”, Abayomi said.
Lagos State accounts for more than 95 per cent of the in-bound passengers into the country and, as such, the state government has been proactive in setting up a system as well as protocols to manage in-bound passengers from all countries, especially countries where variants are actively circulating, the commissioner said.
“Lagos State government is working closely with the Federal Airports Authority and other agencies. We have set up structures that will ease the passenger journey by modifying the Lagos State booking platform to provide several hotels that have been accredited by our Accreditation Agencies for passengers arriving from India, Brazil or Turkey.
“Between 8th May 2021 and 1st of August 2021, a total of 72,232 International Passengers arrived in Lagos via Murtala Mohammed Airport. So far, the state has isolated 5,178 passengers in Lagos State.
“Lagos State medical personnel have been posted to these hotels to support the management of passengers of interest in situations that the passengers might need some medical care. Passengers with medical conditions should elect to stay at our isolation centre in Yaba Mainland Hospital or at the Gbagada Isolation Centre as these facilities have additional amenities to provide medical care, if required,” he pointed out.
Reacting, the national president, Association of Small Business Owners of Nigeria, (ASBON) Dr. Femi Egbesola, said, “Government is trying to enforce perfect compliance but the people in general are not attuned to compliance anymore which is part of their beliefs that COVID-19 is not real in Nigeria.”
This perception, he said, reduces drastically the general level of compliance to what it was during the first outbreak of the pandemic.
He argued that in the big corporate firms, security agents are enforcing compliance but some of them allow people into offices without safety measures.
He said the publicity to drive the needed compliance level for the new variant is drastically low, adding that the government needs to do more with publicity to bring safety measures back into the consciousness of the people.
The ASBON boss argued that poverty is a major cause of low compliance in the country while stating that, if the general compliance must be achieved in the country, government should ensure the distribution of safety measures to the climes and zones where poverty is highly concentrated.
He went further to state that government needs to be proactive if they want maximum compliance to be achieved.
Commenting on the general level of compliance, a public affairs analyst, Mr. Gbenga Odeyemi, said people have lost trust in the current national system with the way government handled the COVID-19 campaigns through the lockdown as well as looting of palliatives by politicians and government agents.
“We need opinion leaders to drive the needed sensitisation in public places through programmes to create awareness about the new variants of COVID-19 third wave in the country,” he said.
He lamented that the state of the health care system and medical facility in the country is in despair and hospitals are poorly funded, even as the doctors have gone on strike many times and were not paid hazard allowances to enable them fight the scourge.
On compliance level in corporate firms, he said the people that are big on compliance are the banks, big eateries, renowned QSR operators and shopping malls. He said multinationals firms like Cadbury, Nestle’, Flourmills and other corporate firms maintained general compliance level.
Moderna Vaccine To Undergo NAFDAC Efficacy Test –NPHCDA Insists
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NAFDAC DG, Prof. Moji Adeyeye, had assured that the evaluation would be concluded in no distant time.