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COVID-19: Panic in UNILAG as medical centre confirms surge in patients

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UNILAG. Photo: LAGSCHOOLS

• Lagos records 153 of Nigeria’s new 166 cases
• WHO: Delta variant leading to high hospitalisations, deaths, now in 104 countries
• UK to support Nigeria in tracking variants

There was panic at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), yesterday, following claims that some students have contracted COVID-19, while authorities also confirmed there has been a recent increase in the number of persons within the university community, who have presented with symptoms of COVID-19 infection.

Already, some students, who spoke with The Guardian, said about six of their colleagues from Onas, Moremi and Amina hostels have tested positive to the virus and have been sent to an isolation centre.

Once a student is confirmed positive, others sharing the same room with the student are sent home while the room is immediately cordoned off. Having signed an indemnity form before resuming physical classes, students who have been confirmed of contracting the virus and their roommates were sent home by the school.

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It was observed that there was strict enforcement of coronavirus protocols on campus even as heads of department and dean of faculties moved around to ensure compliance.

A student who pleaded anonymity told The Guardian that some rooms in her hostel have been shut and their occupants sent home after it was confirmed that they have contracted the virus. She said some officials had been going round to ensure that all safety protocols are adhered to.

This development is coming days after Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, alerted of the third wave of the pandemic in the state and tasked residents to comply with the COVID-19 protocol. In a statement issued yesterday by the institution, members of the university community were advised to ensure strict compliance with the COVID-19 protocol, considering the “potential threat” of a third wave of infections.

“The University of Lagos Medical Centre wishes to inform all members of the University of Lagos Community about what appears to be the start of a potential third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Lagos State,” the statement reads.

“The Governor of Lagos, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-olu, in his press statement issued on July 11, 2021, stated that since the beginning of July, there has been a steep increase in the number of daily confirmed cases, with the test positivity rate going from 1.1 per cent at the end of June 2021, to its current rate of 6.6 per cent as at July 8, 2021. This is with a concurrent increase in the occupancy rate at Lagos State isolation centres.

“The University of Lagos community has also been affected by this potential third wave, with an increase in the number of patients presented to the University of Lagos Medical Centre with flu-like symptoms, which are similar to COVID-19. The Medical Centre hereby assures all members of the university community that all necessary actions in line with the Federal and Lagos State Government’s guidelines have been taken regarding this potential threat in our community.

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“The Medical Centre will also return to providing emergency only services during this period, in order to protect all members of the community from potential infection within the facility.”

One of the team leaders on COVID-19 containment in Lagos and a consultant public health physician, Prof. Akin Osibogun, told The Guardian that more cases would be recorded in the state as already announced by the governor. “It is not surprising to see one or two cases in an institution with a population of more than 10,000 students. Expectedly, we should be prepared for a surge, particularly in UNILAG that last week held its graduation activities.”

The nation’s commercial hub and pandemic epicentre, Lagos, on Monday, once again took the lion share of the country’s new COVID-19 infections. Out of the 166 new cases confirmed by Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Lagos recorded 153, amounting to more than 92 per cent of the total figure. The remaining seven per cent was contributed by three other states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

MEANWHILE, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has sounded the alarm bells on the rampaging effects of the COVID-19 Delta strain that has now seen it spread across 104 countries. Director-General, Tedros Ghebreyesus, made this known at a media briefing on COVID-19 at WHO headquarters in Geneva yesterday.

In a speech on the health body’s website, Ghebreyesus was quick to raise concerns about the COVID-19 variant saying “Delta and other highly transmissible variants are driving catastrophic waves of case, which are translating into high numbers of hospitalisations and death.

He went further to draw the attention of the members at the meeting to the false hope of vaccines as being a quick fix to the virus. “Vaccines have never been the way out of this crisis on their own, but this current wave is demonstrating again just what a powerful tool they are to battle back against this virus,” he stated.

The UK government has announced that Nigeria will be one of the first countries that will receive genomic sequencing support through the New Variant Assessment Platform (NVAP) programme launched earlier this year by Public Health England.

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In a statement on Monday, Public Health England said other countries to benefit from the first phase of NVAP include Brazil, Ethiopia, Kenya and Pakistan. The support for each country includes reagents and equipment to increase in-country sequencing, technical advice, bioinformatics support, and training.

According to U.K. authorities, the target of the NVAP programme is to help countries identify, assess and track new variants of the novel coronavirus.

The Federal Government had on July 8 announced the first case of the deadly Delta variant and since then there has been a marginal increase in the country’s infection tally. The Delta variant has been described by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as the ‘most transmissible variant.’

According to the statement, Sam Agbo, a senior health adviser, British High Commission Abuja, said: ”This is a great development for Nigeria. This partnership will help expand Nigeria’s capacity and capability to identify and sequence variants, improve national preparedness planning, and increase active surveillance for emerging and re-emerging diseases.

It will also enable Nigeria to become a genomic sequencing hub for West and Central African countries and provide regional technical support in the region.”

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