The Governor of the most populated city in Nigeria and Africa gives his seventh update on the state of Covid-19 management and control in Lagos State.
“My dear Lagosians, good afternoon.
I am here to give you an update on various developments regarding the Covid-19 situation in Lagos State, and our response thus far.
I will speak on a number of broad topics, as follows: (1) Medical Update; (2) Palliatives; (3) Security and (4) the upcoming Ramadan Fast.
On the medical side, since my last address to you on April 14, 2020, we have seen an increase in the total number of confirmed cases nationwide. On Sunday April 19, we saw the highest daily increase, nationally and in Lagos State. Lagos saw 70 new cases, taking our total tally to 379. Of this newly confirmed 70 cases, 8 originated from our neighboring state. Of the total number of confirmed cases, we have 264 active cases with 93 having been discharged thus far; and 14 fatalities recorded.
The natural reaction, after hearing this, is for people to panic, and to ask questions about why we are still seeing these significant numbers despite all the efforts being made, including the lockdown.
Let me assure you that there is no need to panic. The increase in numbers we are seeing is evidence of the success of our evolving strategy of ramping up testing by going into local communities. You may have heard that we have recently set up sample collection centers across our 20 Local Government Areas.
The goal of this expanded testing is to take testing closer to the people, by making it easier for those who fall into the ‘case definition’ to have their samples collected.
As we implement these strategies, and take testing deeper into our neighborhoods and communities, we expect that we will see more positive cases. I must use this opportunity to commend all the teams who are carrying out this active community case search.
Fellow Lagosians, you may recall that two weeks ago, I had briefed you about 67 Nigerians who wanted to return to the country through the Seme border. Upon arrival at the border, they were quarantined at our isolation center in Badagry. Today, I am however pleased to announce that all the returnees have tested negative to the virus and will be discharged from the facility tomorrow.
Conversely, we also had a second batch of 23 returnees through the Seme Border; of which 2 have tested positive and have been moved to an isolation center.
I should also use this opportunity to address an issue that goes to the core of our ability to identify, isolate and manage suspected cases of this disease. This is the issue of Stigmatization. We have had instances where people who are suspected of having the virus have declined to present themselves for testing and treatment, more often than not, opting to manage their symptoms by themselves or in extreme cases going to private hospitals and lying about their symptoms or travel history.
These actions are extremely unfortunate and dangerous. Not only do they have wide ranging ramifications on everyone, it also portends great consequences on our ability to record any meaningful gains from this lockdown that we have all been subjected to.
The isolation centers are not death centers. We have had many positive and uplifting stories from those who have been discharged from our facilities. They are being treated and discharged. In fact, the earlier the diagnosis the greater the chances of making a full recovery. Please be reassured that Covid-19, despite its contagious nature, is not a death sentence.
In this vein, I therefore implore all those who have tested positive to this disease or are suspected to have contracted this disease not to be afraid of presenting themselves to our isolation facilities for expert management with a variety of treatment options available.
I would also like to urge members of the society to desist from stigmatizing anyone who has been cured of this virus. There is absolutely no reason to do that. Once they have been certified as being virus free, they are free to rejoin the society and should not be discriminated against.
On a positive note, our trend of discharges has continued, we are still maintaining our 25-30 percent rate of discharged cases.
The work to increase our capacity for isolation and treatment is also ongoing; we are opening new isolation centers at Eti-Osa and Gbagada General Hospital, which will take our total capacity to almost 600, including 30 Intensive Care beds.
I should also mention that we are in the process of reviewing applications from private hospitals who have expressed an interest in being certified as a covid-19 bio-medical facility. This process is ongoing and will be concluded at the appropriate time through our HEFAAMA Board.
There have been questions about whether we are planning to introduce a face mask wearing policy. Our simple answer is that it may be compulsory to wear one in public places from next week. We have already commissioned local production in large quantities in a way that will suit our environment and be pocket friendly.
This however does not mean that everyone should rush out to buy the medical grade masks, as these should be reserved solely for our health workers on the frontlines of the battle. For every one, asides the health workers, the locally made non-medical grade masks will suffice.
At this time, dear Lagosians, the most appropriate response from all of us as a State is not to panic; but to strengthen our resolve to continue to obey all the directives around physical distancing, respiratory hygiene, and staying at home.
That is what is expected of us at this time, and what we must do. It is not easy, but it is a necessary sacrifice, and the only way we can halt this pandemic and guarantee a speedy return to normalcy.
Dear Lagosians, in the last few weeks I have announced a series of palliative measures, to help as many people as possible to cope with the economic and livelihood disruptions arising from this Pandemic.
In my address to you last week I announced the commencement of a new set of palliative measures, in addition to all the existing ones: The new measures included the following:
- Our Daily “Food Kitchen” program to feed 100,000 youths daily.
- Distribution of dry food relief items to some of our critical community stakeholders; including but not limited to religious and ethnic groups and associations; market associations, tertiary institutions (both state and federal); and all political parties in the state.
- A cash transfer scheme for our most indigent citizens, using data from our various social registers is currently on-going.
- A three-month interest repayment moratorium on all government loan programs.
I am pleased to let you know that all of these are going on as promised. The Daily Food Kitchen for youths and the distribution of food items to critical community stakeholders’ groups are all going on without any hitch.
I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank all the donors that have come forward to partner with us on this daily feeding initiative. To the faith-based institutions; corporate bodies and well-meaning individuals, we are most grateful. We will in due course be publicly acknowledging all your efforts and donations.
This brings me to the issue of security in the State. You will all agree with me that the situation has improved considerably in recent days, just as we promised.
I am in constant contact with all of our security agencies, and I can assure you that all hands are on deck to send the strongest possible message that Lagos will not succumb to the antics of hoodlums and bandits who seek to take advantage of these challenging times.
Our people must be able to go to bed with both eyes closed; every law-abiding citizen must continue to enjoy the guarantee of safety in their homes and neighborhoods.
But as for criminal elements, there will be no rest for you. As I said in my last address, there is no room whatsoever in Lagos State for criminality of any kind. The patrols and shows-of-force will continue, the arrests will continue, and all suspects will duly be charged to court.
Let me use this opportunity to thank the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG Ogunyanwo) who has been assigned to oversee the Special Intervention Squad deployed in Lagos and Ogun Sates to help boost security at this time. We will continue to give him and his teams all the support they require to discharge their responsibilities to the maximum. Our gratitude also goes to the military, the Intelligence services, the Civil Defence Corps, Lagos State Neighborhood Watch, and all the various private security agencies which have all played active roles in helping maintain security across the State.
Later this week, the Muslim faithful among us will commence the observance of the annual Ramadan fast. I know that you are all eagerly looking forward to it. My appeal to all is this: even in our service to the Almighty God, let us continue to obey the laws and guidelines of the land.
As we prepare to observe the Ramadan fast, we have a responsibility to continue to maintain appropriate levels of respiratory hygiene and physical distancing, and observe the restrictions on the permissible size of gatherings. Our directives prohibit gatherings of more than 25 persons, regardless of the circumstances. This has not changed.
My dear Lagosians, as I end this address, let me once again touch upon the issue of fake and unverified news. I would like to implore us all that we should refrain from sharing news and reports that have not been verified, or that seek to cause fear. We all have important roles to play by not disseminating or amplifying these messages. We must only seek to share information that have been issued by the appropriate health authorities.
Finally, please be reminded that just as the government has responsibilities to the citizens, we, as citizens, also have responsibilities to the government. At a time like this, the most important of those responsibilities include obeying every directive and guidelines that have been made for our safety and wellbeing.
As unpalatable and disruptive as the lockdown might be, it is necessary for all of us; it is the only way to prevent far more disruptive and devastating social, economic and security scenarios. We are making these sacrifices today to avert possible disaster tomorrow.
And we are not alone in this; this is not a Nigerian, or even African, problem alone. It is a global challenge. It has been described as the most challenging crisis of our lifetime. Cities and countries around the world are all being compelled to take unprecedented and extraordinary measures to fight this pandemic.
I am confident that we will overcome, but this will not happen without some sacrifice on our part. It will not happen if we continue to rebel against the authorities. The pain that we are dealing with now will be nothing compared to the pain that we will face if we allow this pandemic to get out of control.
So, let me again appeal to all Lagosians, wherever you might be in the State, to please stay at home, and avoid all non-essential movements.