Following a dramatic spike in the number of positive cases registered in the previous few weeks, the Lagos State Government has raised concern about a probable third wave of Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu announced restrictions and penalties on Sunday after revealing that the State’s daily rates of COVID-19 confirmation had risen to 6.6% in a week.
Because they provided incorrect contact information, 18% of the 50,322 air passengers of interest who landed in Lagos via the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA) could not be reached for COVID-19 status monitoring by EKOTELEMED, according to the governor.
The Governor has ordered that in-bound flight passengers who do not give verifiable contact information, including accessible phone numbers, be sanctioned. According to the Lagos State Coronavirus Law of 2021, air travellers would risk prosecution, including fines and detention. He said:
In spite of our hard work and dedicated efforts towards sustaining the return to normalcy, over the last three months, after the flattened the curve of the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic, we are now finding ourselves at what appears to be the start of a potential third wave of the pandemic in Lagos State. From the beginning of July, we started to experience a steep increase in the number of daily confirmed cases.
The rapid increase within a week gives great cause for concern. Also, within the last two weeks, the occupancy rate at our isolation centres increased to an average of six per cent. This is the disturbing reality that now confronts us. As directed by the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 (PSC), passengers from red-listed countries (India, South Africa, Brazil, and Turkey) are required to observe mandatory isolation.
We have successfully isolated 2,386 passengers in Lagos. Of this number, 15 per cent have absconded. Sanctions are being recommended and have already been meted out to defaulters. Revocation of Permanent Residency and deportation are being meted out to foreign nationals defaulting the protocols. For Nigerians, there will be prosecution to the full extent of the Lagos State COVID-19 Law of 2021.
According to Sanwo-Olu, the current circumstance necessitated the reactivation of complete compliance with all safety measures already established by the State Government.
The Governor stated that masks should be required in all public venues, as well as social distance, temperature checks, hand-washing and sanitiser facilities, and a maximum of 50% occupancy in enclosed areas. Sanwo-Olu advised worship centres to be especially watchful, cautioning them not to be fooled into thinking that all activities had returned to normal.
It is understandable that many are tired and want their old, pre-pandemic lives to return. Unfortunately, we do not have a choice in this regard, and fatigue is not an option. We cannot afford to be tired, frustrated or distracted. Without the cooperation of the public at large, we stand the risks of losing both lives and livelihood, on a devastating scale.
The enemy (COVID-19) is formidable and opportunistic. The pandemic will only go as far as we allow it. Having triumphed over the first and second waves, we must now find within ourselves new reserves of energy to quell this emerging third wave before it snowballs out of control.