‘Why Nigeria is at huge risk of third wave of COVID-19’
*Lagos deploys telemedicine officers to restrict inbound travelers from India, Brazil others with fake home addresses, phone numbers
With India, Brazil and Turkey recording massive hit from COVID-19, the Lagos State government has taken action to avert the impending crisis of a third wave in the state by restricting inbound travelers, set to increase testing to 7, 000 per day and setting up three oxygen plants as well as increasing its capacity to supply oxygen to patients who have tested positive.
Recall that the demand for oxygen cylinders in Lagos, the epi-centre of the outbreak, increased as much as sevenfold during the outbreak in 2020, which went from around 70 per day to as high as 500 oxygen cylinders daily in November.
It is believed that Lagos, with a population of over 14 million and 55 per cent inbound air travellers, remains prone to the third wave of COVID-19; and more oxygen plants make Lagos set the third wave and a reduction in a number of deaths.
Commissioner of Health in Lagos State, Prof. Akin Abayomi, during a ministerial press briefing, in Alausa, Ikeja, said with the influx of travellers tagged as carriers of various mutants in the state, it would be unwise for the state government to ignore the signs of a looming third wave.
He stated that the ministry has built two oxygen plants, which are located at Yaba and Gbagada, increasing the state’s ability to generate oxygen within the Ministry.
“There is a third oxygen plant that will soon be put together at Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) Ikeja and so Lagos state will have three oxygen plants which will make us fairly resilient to a scenario where there is a high demand of oxygen. But we are not stopping here; we are going to continue building more because if you watch CNN or BBC, you will see the consequences of not planning ahead. So we are ensuring we have the capability to produce large quantities of medical oxygen,” Abayomi said.
With the challenges of testing faced in the country, Abayomi stressed that Lagos State may be able to stretch its testing capacity from 2, 500 to 7, 000 per day with the ten health facilities in various centres upgraded ahead of a third wave.
MEANWHILE, with the current statistics of persons vaccinated, Abayomi noted that the country is still at a huge risk of the third wave of COVID-19 having vaccinated less than one percent of its population. He said Lagos has vaccinated close to 260,000 persons and in a few weeks the State will roll out the second vaccines to those who received the first jab.
“We have been able to achieve one per cent herd immunity. We still have 14 million people to vaccinate and we need to hit what we call 60 per cent of the population, which will be one of our great strategies to mitigate the third wave. And that amounts to 40 million Lagosians,” Abayomi said.
The ministry promised to deploy advanced technology known as telemedicine to restrict travelers from India, Brazil and Turkey with fake home addresses and phone numbers.
He added: “We are now deploying Eko Telemed to monitor inbound travelers coming into the State. So anyone coming into Nigeria will receive a phone call every day to make sure that you are isolated in your house and if you are not in your house the police will come and they will find out why you are not in and present you a fine and you may be deported. We are going to monitor inbound travellers to make sure that they are isolating according to the guidelines and that they come for their day seven test.
“We have search teams if they cannot find you where you are supposed to be, the search team will locate you. One thing that is happening is that people are giving us wrong information about their health on the forms. We are going to stop that process through technology and fines. When you are filling your health information data and you give us the wrong telephone number or wrong address we will find you and sanction you.”
ON the travel ban of air bond passengers between India, Brazil and Turkey regarded as a devastating ground for the virus, Abayomi said that Nigerians are free to travel back to the country under its biosafety watch.
Abayomi added: “If you are a Nigerian and you are in one of these countries or a permanent resident of Nigeria and you are in one of these countries we cannot stop you from coming home, because this is your home. So we cannot ban Nigerians of permanent residents from coming back to the country. So therefore we have created this opportunity for people who are in these countries, if they wish to come home they can come home but they have to go through a very elaborate process of testing.
“As soon as they arrive, they will be isolated at a government accredited isolation facility and they will have a test within 24 hours of their arrival at the facility. So that we will know what mutations you are carrying and from which country. With that, we can keep you in isolation so that you do not spread it to the community and trigger the third wave of one of these mutants and dangerous viruses. And if they are tested positive they will remain in our care under biosecurity conditions. By that way, we will interrupt the opportunity for the virus to spread in the community.”
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