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776 travellers from COVID-19 high-risk countries under Lagos isolation abscond

By Monsurudeen Olowoopejo

Atleast 776 travellers from Coronavirus third waves high-risk countries to Nigeria through Lagos State have been reported to have absconded from isolation, putting the over 20 million residents of the state in possible danger of contracting the virus from them.

Aside from that, of the 72,232 travellers that came into Lagos within the last three months from the four high-risked countries (India, South Africa, Brazil, and Turkey) were discovered supplied the state government, under Eko Tele-Medicine (EKOTELEMED) could not be contacted and were discovered to have provided their international phone numbers and other details that could not aid the officials embark on contact-tracing them across the country.

The State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, disclosed the number on Monday while briefing the residents on the COVID-19 development, stated that the rise in the number of Coronavirus (COVID-19)-related fatalities recorded in the last one week presents a worrying trend that the third wave of the pandemic posed to Lagos State.

He noted that from last week in July into the present month, the positivity rate in Lagos rose to 8.9 percent, with frightening figures of hospitalisations and fatalities increasing daily.

The governor argued that the virus spread were been aided by in-bound travellers particularly those from countries with high cases of the virus escaping from isolation without completing the globally specified date for the self-isolation for visitors to any country.

According to him, So far, we have successfully isolated 5,178 passengers in Lagos State. Of this number, 15 percent (776.7) have absconded from isolation.

“Travel Protocols for in-Bound Passengers between 8th May 2021 and 1st of August 2021, a total of 72,232 International Passengers arrived in Lagos via Murtala Mohammed Airport. Of the 72,232 travellers, 18 percent (13,000) could not be reached by EKOTELEMED, because they provided international phone numbers, instead of Nigerian contact numbers.

“We hereby implore all inbound passengers arriving in Lagos to endeavour to provide valid contact details to the authorities, so that they can be properly monitored. To manage the 3rd wave of the pandemic, EKOTELEMED will continue to focus on 6 monitoring and tracking inbound travellers and cases in community.

“We will also not hesitate to impose sanctions and penalties on all those caught violating the rules. Sanctions Against Quarantine Defaulters As dictated by the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID19 (PSC), passengers from red-listed countries (India, South Africa, Brazil, and Turkey) are required to observe mandatory isolation”.

The situation, Sanwo-Olu said, called for improved vigilance and personal responsibility, urging the residents to reactivate the preventive protocols to break the cycle of infection currently ravaging the State.

He said: “From the beginning of July, we started to experience an increase in the number of daily confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Lagos, with the positivity rate going to seven per cent at the end of July. As at August 1, the positivity rate rose to 8.9 per cent, which is an eight-fold increase over the recorded figure a month ago. This has resulted in 4,300 confirmed cases in July alone and 352 admissions into our isolation facilities. The situation at hand should rightly alarm all of us.

“Let me make it clear that this necessary sense of alarm should not be responded to with panic, but instead with firm resolve and determination to reverse the trend. We must dig deep into what we have learnt from the previous waves, as well as summon the will to do everything necessary in bringing down the numbers to eventually defeat the virus once and for all. We have done it before and we can do it again.”

Sanwo-Olu said the State Government had fully reactivated the home-based care system, known as EKOTELEMED, through which officials deliver care packs to symptomatic patients who do not require admission in isolation facilities.

He urged residents feeling symptoms associated with COVID-19 to reach out to EKOTELEMED on its toll-free number 08000356633 for guidance, warning that only State-accredited healthcare facilities could manage COVID-19 cases.

The Governor expressed concern on the low vaccination rate in the State, pointing out that 161,040 out of the 404,414 residents who got the first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine administered in March did not return for their second doses. He put the vaccination rate in Lagos as one per cent, which is far below the threshold set by the State to achieve herd immunity.

As epicentre of the pandemic, Sanwo-Olu said Lagos would soon be receiving a sizeable allocation of the Moderna vaccine already delivered to the Federal Government. The Governor said only those yet to receive any COVID-19 vaccine would get the Moderna jab when the distribution starts.

He said: “The Moderna vaccine cannot be mixed with AstraZeneca. For people who have already taken the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, they cannot mix it with the Moderna vaccine that has just been received. We are still expecting a second allocation of AstraZeneca vaccine before the end of August to vaccinate those who are yet to get the second shots. The distribution strategy would be based on appointment to avoid the exercise becoming a super spreader.”

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