COVID-19: Dreaded Delta variant hits Oyo as Lagos slips into third wave

• Oyo COVID-19 task force urges vigilance
• Sanwo-Olu orders religious, event centres to cut down to 50% capacity
• 18% of Lagos inbound passengers between May-July absconded
• 15% of passengers from red-listed countries without a trace
• LUTH debunks viral reports on COVID-19 patients

The Oyo State COVID-19 Task Force has uncovered the virulent Delta variant of coronavirus in the state. The State Incident Manager and coordinator of the Emergency Operations Centre, Dr. Olabode Ladipo, who confirmed this development yesterday, said the public is notified of the need to take extra caution and consistently apply all advisories earlier released by the task force.

The Delta variant is a highly transmissible variant of COVID-19 originating from India and it infects people more rapidly than the other known COVID-19 variants. This is coming after the Federal Government last Thursday confirmed the first case of Delta variant in the country.
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to Governor ‘Seyi Makinde, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, on behalf of the task force, said: “We wish to notify the general public of the isolation of the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus in the state. This strain has been associated with high transmission, increased severity of infection and outcomes.” 

It warned residents to continue to comply with all advisories aimed at curtailing the spread of COVID-19, including all in-bound travellers being mandated to isolate for seven days and submit themselves for tests.

ALSO, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, yesterday, said the state has started experiencing a potential third wave of the pandemic with dire consequences. Sanwo-Olu, who gave the alert while giving an update on the pandemic situation in the state and ongoing response as a government, added that the country stands the risks of losing both lives and livelihood on a devastating scale.

Nigeria posted 98 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, with Lagos topping the grim chart with 94 in latest update released by the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). The 98 cases contrasted sharply with the 186 reported from three states on Friday, where Lagos also topped the chart with 175 of the cases. The day earlier, Nigeria recorded 146 cases out of which Lagos had 110, and on July 7, the country recorded 110 confirmed cases with Lagos recording 88.

According to Sanwo-Olu, “starting around the end of March 2021, the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Lagos began to wind down, and we began to enjoy some reprieve from the worst effects of the virus. This allowed us to further open up the economy to allow the start of the journey towards full normalcy in our lives and the pursuit of livelihoods, after what has been a very difficult year.

“Regrettably, in spite of the hard work and dedicated efforts towards sustaining the return to normalcy, over the last three months, we are now finding ourselves at what appears to be the start of a potential third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, in Lagos State.

“From the beginning of July, we started to experience a steep increase in the number of daily confirmed cases, with the test positivity rate going from 1.1 per cent at the end of June 2021 to its current rate of 6.6 per cent as of July 8, 2021. 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 from an average of 1 per cent to 6 per cent. This is the new and disturbing reality that now confronts us.”

Giving the epidemiology update, Sanwo-Olu added: “As at July 7, 2021, Lagos had recorded a total of 60,202 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Of this number, 55,135 have recovered in-community and 770 are currently being managed actively in-community. Over the course of managing the COVID-19 pandemic, about 4,382 patients have been admitted into our various COVID-19 care centres in Lagos. In all, we have tested 563,679 samples in Lagos since the pandemic started.”

On travel protocols for inbound passengers, the governor gave a record. “Between May 8, 2021, and July 7, 2021, a total of 50,322 passengers of interest arrived in Lagos via the Murtala Muhammed Airport. Of the 50,322 passengers, 18 per cent could not be reached by EKOTELEMED because of the provision of either wrong numbers or wrong Nigerian contact details to be reached on.

“Going forward, passengers that do not provide the right details, including a phone number that cannot be reached for monitoring and an address for isolation, will face serious sanctions including fines and imprisonment according to our Lagos State Coronavirus Law of 2021.

“As dictated 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. So far, we have successfully isolated 2,386 passengers in Lagos State. Of this number, 15 per cent have absconded.”

Ahead of the Sallah celebration, Sanwo-Olu, stated, “Greater vigilance is required at this time in our churches and mosques and other places of religious worship. We must not allow ourselves to be carried away by the illusion that all is now back to normal. This is especially critical, as Sallah approaches, in a little over a week from now.

“We are mandating full compliance with all protective protocols. Compulsory use of masks in all public places, social distancing, temperature checks, provisions for hand-washing and sanitisers, and a maximum of 50 per cent occupancy in enclosed spaces.”

MEANWHILE, management of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) has debunked viral reports on social media that Block B Wards have been reopened for COVID-19 and the wards are full of patients. In a statement by the Chief Medical Director, Prof. Chris Bode, it denounced the report as untrue and wickedly fabricated to scare the public. 

The statement said: “It is the same false posting that was widely circulated in January 2021 and the general public is hereby advised to disregard it in its entirety. In fact, as of this morning, only two COVID-19 patients are receiving treatment in LUTH. There is no shortage of oxygen in our facility.

“We at LUTH are but a part of the Lagos State Response Team on COVID-19 and major announcements on the pandemic are made by the Office of the Commissioner of Health or the Executive Governor of the State. 

“While appealing the public to disregard the said false news, it is pertinent to say that COVID-19 is not over and everyone should take all precautions to avoid catching it. Wearing of face masks, hand-washing, social distancing and avoidance of all unnecessary social gatherings are still essential to the control of this pandemic that has disrupted our social and business activities for the past 18 months.”

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