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JUST IN: Lagos Govt. drags S-African returnee before court for violating COVID-19 law

By Monsurudeen Olowoopejo

The Lagos State Government has dragged a South African female returnee, Adesola Adeleke, before the court for contravening the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Health Protection Regulations 2021 on arrival in the state, barely a month ago.

Adeleke was said to have allegedly bypassed the system established by the Federal and State Governments to safeguard citizens and prevent further spread of the virus across the country particularly for returnees and visitors from the Red-list countries including South Africa, India, Brazil and Turkey.

The guidelines of the law state that any person that contravened provisions of the regulations commits, upon conviction, risked a fine or a term of six months imprisonment or both in accordance with Section 5 of the Quarantine Act.

As gathered, Adeleke arrived on the 25th of July 2021 alongside seven other passengers on Rwandan Airline in transit from South Africa at 1:30pm and after the usual rigorous reconciliation of headcount at the Port Health Authority, she alongside five others allegedly left without notifying the officials.

It was learnt that the returnee, who had made the required payment for COVID-19 tests and the mandatory isolation prior to leaving South Africa, returned 10 days later, on the 5th of August 2021, to retrieve her passport from the Nigerian Port Health Authority.

Adeleke, The Guild gathered, approached the Medical Director of the Mainland Hospital (Infectious Disease Hospital), Yaba, Dr. Abimbola Bowale, for possible collection of her passport and other documents left with the officials.

Bowale, who discovered that Adeleke was on the absconded list and discovered that she returned due to inability to retrieve her passport without fulfilling the quarantine obligations at one of the designated hotels of her choice in Lagos, informed the officials.

The Guild gathered that after her payment was confirmed, Adeleke was informed she had to continue her quarantine for the next seven days before being released and certified free of the virus.

Speaking on the issue, Director, Public Affairs department, Ministry of Health, Tunbosun Ogunbanwo, on Sunday, stated that the Health officials provided Adeleke with several isolation options and that she selected an option for her isolation, which only caters for accommodation without feeding.

Ogunbanwo added that the development was brought to the returnee’s attention that feeding would be a separate arrangement with the hotel management pending the duration of her isolation within the facility.

“It is worthy of note that hotels that are utilized for the isolation of ‘Passengers of Interest’ (POIs) from the red listed countries also accommodate other guests on the condition that entire floors are dedicated to isolating these passengers without mixing with other guests. Whilst it is partly the responsibility of the hotel to inform passengers of their need to stay within their rooms, it is the responsibility of the passengers in quarantine to adhere to the laid down protocols or face the consequences of the law if otherwise.

“Adeleke’s day-two test was conducted on the 6th of August 2021 and the result came out negative, but her day seven test on the 14th was positive which required extension of her isolation. She argued that she could not have been positive and requested a repeat test. A new sample was done by the Lagos State Government at no cost to Adeleke, which was performed on the 16th of August 2021 and released on the 17th of August 2021. The repeat test returned positive.

“On the 17th of August, the hotel management called our attention to a man at the facility, claiming to be Adeleke’s father, attempting to forcibly take her away, irrespective of her status. The hotel was asked to allow her to leave as they were being violent and creating a scene. Since this incident, Adeleke has made sensational news to avoid being penalized for her actions. In summary, she avoided initial isolation by absconding to Ibadan, despite being aware of the protocol and only returned to try and collect her passport.

“Following our investigations and evidence produced, her claims are totally false, and she would be made to face the consequences of the Coronavirus Law of 2021 based on the allegations that have been levelled against her in a court of law.

“We make bold to say that we are not deterred by this frivolous campaign to ridicule the Federal and State public laws targeted to mitigate the third wave of infections and halt the spread of COVID, particularly because the deadly new strains have the potential to cause massive sickness and death.

“Since the commencement of the isolation of passengers from the red listed countries, the Lagos State response has successfully quarantined 4,448 passengers as at the 19th of August 2021 and identified 58 POIs who tested positive to the COVID-19 virus despite a negative test on arrival; and would have hitherto contributed to the ongoing third wave which has claimed over 500 deaths recorded at our isolation centers. The State Government is, in fact, now more committed than ever to fully implementing all COVID protocols without fear or favor. Our conviction of ensuring public health security and safety outweighs any other considerations.

“Severe sanctions await inbound travelers and passengers who flout the protocol of the Federal and State COVID pandemic law. Citizens need to realize that we are in the middle of a serious pandemic and that it is through shared responsibilities that we can overcome this pandemic. Residents are also encouraged to resist the urge of supporting passengers in defaulting the required protocols”.

 

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