Lagos Gov't Shuts down Isolation Centres as Nigeria Scores Major Victories against Covid-19

Measures put in place by the Nigerian government to flatten the curve of the novel Coronavirus may have been yielding positive results.  The government of the country’s Coronavirus epicentre, Lagos State, has begun the process of shutting down some of the isolation centres due to a decrease in the number of patients admitted into the centres.

As of August 1, Nigeria had 43,537 confirmed cases, with 20,087 cases discharged and 883 deaths recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. Lagos State alone had 15,186 cases with 12,846 admitted in healthcare facilities, 2,148 discharged and 192 deaths.

The state currently has eight isolation centres with a capacity of 547 bed spaces. Gbagada General Hospital – 118, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi- Araba – 60, Infectious Disease Hospital, Yaba – 115, Onikan Stadium Center – 100, Landmark Center – 70, Lekki Center – 45, Agidingbi Center – 34 and First Cardiology – 5 (Critical care).

Timescape Magazine gathered that the government of the State, had before now, announced that it approved home treatment for Covid-19 cases to manage the limited bed spaces in these isolation centres. It was surprising when the Governor of Lagos, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu announced on Saturday August 1 that it had concluded plans to shut down some of the isolation centres because their usage was no more needed.

He said: “We have run through a model that shows that we have built excess isolation capacity over the last five months. We must come to a stage where we need to balance the economics of risk, as to which isolation facility should we need to keep running. Some of the isolation centres are having less than 20 per cent of their occupancy capacities. This is why we concluded to shut Eti-Osa facility and another one in Lekki.”

Sanwo-Olu disclosed that the Agidingbi isolation centre would also be shut down for the relocation of patients to a large capacity Centre in Anthony area, which would be commissioned soon. He added that the government had activated a process of reverting the Infectious Diseases Hospital (IDH) in Yaba to its status as a care centre to cater to all forms of infectious diseases, adding that the tent built by the Coalition Against Covid-19 (CACOVID) at IDH premises would remain strictly for the management of Covid-19 cases.

The Governor directed the re-opening of places of worship in the state, starting from August 7 for mosques and August 9 for Churches. He also directed the re-opening of social clubs with registered trustees and recreational centres from August 14, but on condition that they obtain a provisional safety compliance certificate from the Lagos State Safety Commission (LSSC).

Besides, Sanwo-Olu relaxed the public gathering regulation increasing the permissible capacity from 20 to 50 persons at a given period. Night clubs, entertainment centres and cinemas would remain closed, the Governor ordered.

From August 14, restaurants would resume in-dining services, but at 50 per cent occupancy capacity. Also, safety clearance must be obtained from the Safety Commission before resuming the in-dining services.

In the case of places of worship, only regular services or religious gatherings would be permitted. Night Vigils and other non-regular events remain prohibited until further notice. Also, Christians over the age of 65 are strongly discouraged from attending worship centres, the Governor said, adding that all worship centres must adhere to face mask guideline.

The Governor said the new development followed a careful review of emerging positive events, stressing the decisions to relax the lockdown measures were to create a balance between competing demands of safeguarding lives of the residents and preserving their means of livelihoods.

He said: “Having carefully reviewed the current scenario in Lagos, we have taken some important decisions in line with the ongoing objective of calibrating an effective balance between the competing demands of safeguarding lives and enabling livelihoods.

“Places of worship in Lagos will be allowed to open from Friday, August 7, for our Muslim worshippers, and Sunday, August 9, for Christian worshippers, but only at 50 per cent of their regular capacity. Worship centres whose main worship period falls on Saturdays are equally permitted to hold their services, subject to the same guidelines as churches holding services on Sundays.

“Social clubs and recreational centres will also be allowed to open from August 14, on the condition that they have applied for and obtained a Provisional safety compliance certificate via registration on LSSC website. The clearance certificates are at this time being issued only to social clubs with registered trustees.

“Restaurants will now be permitted to open for in-dining services, from August 14, on the condition that they maintain a 50 per cent occupancy capacity. The restaurants must obtain a provisional safety compliance certificate through the LSSC registration portal. We are also increasing the permissible capacity for public gatherings from 20 to 50 persons. This applies to a wide range of events, from funerals, social events to corporate meetings”.

It has also been directed that all the mandatory prevention and control measures issued by the State government must be strictly adhered to, including physical distancing, mandatory temperature checks and use of masks in public places, regular disinfection of premises, and strong personal hygiene.

Worship centres and social clubs that re-open without complying with the mandatory hygienic protocols and physical distancing requirements will be shut down and face the wrath of the law, the Governor warned.

Mr. Sanwo-Olu said the State government patterned its response strategy after Mumbai, an India populous city that share similar demographic and climatic conditions with Lagos. He observed that Lagos had recorded similar results and successes with Mumbai in its Covid-19 response.

He said secondary schools should re-open as earlier communicated by the Ministry of Education, from August 3, for Exit Classes only – SSS3 and Technical Studies III (TEC 3) students only. This, he said, will allow them to have a two-week period to participate in revision classes in preparation for the West African Examinations (WAEC).

The Governor said all standard precautions must be put in place by school authorities to protect the students, while urging compliance to the measures outlined in the new regulations, stressing that LSSC has a statutory responsibility to monitor the activities and operations of all organisations and worship centres that have been permitted to re-open.

He reiterated his usual call for collective responsibility: “As I always say, people need to take responsibility for themselves and their loved ones. Self-regulation is the order of the day, and no one should wait for the government to regulate them or their conduct, even though we will be doing so. Everyone of us must take up the responsibility and ensure that we are self-regulating ourselves in our interest and that of our loved ones.”