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Lagos may go under another lockdown after 135 COVID-19 patients escape isolation

By Monsurudeen Olowoopejo

There are indications that Federal Government may impose another fresh lockdown on Lagos after the State Government raised the alarm that no fewer than 135 inbound passengers out of 568 in-bound passengers permitted entry into Nigeria from three COVID-19 prone countries escaped from isolation as mandated by the apex government for returnees.

The 135 in-bound passengers, including foreigners, who were allowed entry into the country from India, Brazil and Turkey on special recommendations, disregarded the new self-isolation guidelines imposed by the government to prevent possibly community spread across the country and have relocated from the earlier address presented.

According to the Lagos state government, since the commencement of the new guidelines and the ban on non-Nigerians travelling from three countries into Nigeria, it has recorded 568 in-bound passengers and isolated 433 passengers in its various accredited hotels and facilities.

It added that 262 are in isolation and 154 passengers have been discharged with a negative COVID-19 test. It added of the passengers tested, 9 tested positive to COVID-19 and successfully isolated to prevent community transmission. It, however, lamented that of the remaining 135 passengers, 119 have refused isolation and 16 are unaccounted for.

The state’s Commissioner for Health, Professor Akin Abayomi, who raised the alarm yesterday, further warned that it was important that absconded passengers adhere strictly to the laid-out protocols to avoid sanctions which may include penalties and/or prison time as laid out by the Lagos State House of Assembly and to be implemented by the Attorney General of the State.

He said: “It is worthy of note to state that the new Coronavirus Act of 2021 empowers the State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, to quarantine anyone he deems fit and for any period of time. The act also empowers him to sanction erring individuals with fines of up to N500,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 5 years. According to the act, providing false or deliberately misleading information when filling out the online platform is an offence punishable by 1 year imprisonment and/or fines according to Section 17 of the Corona virus Pandemic law 2021. According to Section 17 of same, if passengers break the quarantine rules, they may be required to pay the stipulated fine and/or 1 year imprisonment. All passengers are advised to avoid the long arm of the law and act in good conscience by adhering to the guidelines to protect the lives and livelihoods of all Lagos residents.”

Abayomi also added: “All passengers that have been confirmed absconders will have their passports deactivated for a minimum of 1 year, if Nigerian and if foreign, will have their resident permits cancelled and deported as stated by the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19. All absconders will also face the penalties of the Coronavirus Pandemic Law 2021 of Lagos State, including varying lengths of prison time of up to one year and fines of up to N500,000. All affected passengers are to present themselves to the Yaba Mainland Hospital for assessment and COVID-19 tests to evaluate their status.”

“Lagos State accounts for more than 95% of the in-bound passengers into the country and, as such, the state government had 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.

He added that the state is working closely with the Federal Airports Authority and Agencies and has 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 the accreditation agencies for passengers arriving from India, Brazil or Turkey.

The Commissioner said that 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, adding that 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.

Harping on testing and vaccination, he added: As at 27th of May 2021, Lagos State had tested 495,339 COVID-19 samples, with 58,975 of these samples confirmed positive. 54,426 have recovered in the community and 274 are active in the community. Of the 58,975 confirmed cases, 356 deaths were, unfortunately, recorded. These amount to a death rate of 0.6%. On March 12, 2021, the vaccination campaign was flagged off in Lagos, and, so far, a total of 317,916 people have been vaccinated with the first dose of the Oxford Astra-Zeneca vaccine. This means that 1.32% of the State’s population have received the first dose.

While promising to publish the second list of absconders, he advised those who have received the first dose of the Oxford-Astraneca COVID vaccine to approach the centre where they received the first jab for the second dose, adding that it is better to be vaccinated to prevent being infected with the virus.

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