By; MATTHEW UKACHUNWA, Lagos
The volume of inbound passengers coming into the State for Christmas and New Year festivities has been identified as one of the potential triggers for the fourth wave of Novel Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Lagos state.
Other reasons for the speculation are low vaccination and the anticipated social activities that will come up in the festive season.
The government stated this while warning of a possible 4th wave of the pandemic in Nigeria.
The Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi disclosed this on Friday at a press briefing on the Lagos State COVID19 response and mass vaccination strategy, as reported in news release by Tunbosun Ogunanwo, Director of Public Affairs in the state’s Ministry of Health.
Abayomi noted that the Lagos State Government is currently implementing strategies to prevent and mitigate a possible fourth wave of COVID19 infection.
He explained that the state government is employing four pronged strategies namely: vaccination strategy, testing strategy, management of inbound passengers of interest into the country and managing social events during the festive season to prevent and mitigate a potential fourth wave.
According to him, “we are ramping up the percentage of residents of Lagos vaccinated against COVID-19 from 1.6 % to 30% within one year. We are also improving our testing capacity and adding day two and day seven tests for passengers of interest from all countries.
“We are also rejigging enforcement of COVID-19 laws and guidelines and sanctioning defaulters through the Lagos State special offences mobile court. We are also poised to control the size of events, ensure those attending events are vaccinated and enforce adherence to other COVID-19 protocols”.
The Commissioner disclosed that Lagos currently has 2.67% of its population vaccinated with two doses of the COVID vaccines adding that the State hoped to administer eight million doses of COVID vaccines to four million people by the 25th of December this year.
Abayomi noted that the State Government as part of its vaccination campaign mandate and approach is partnering with the private sector to rapidly ramp up COVID19 vaccination stressing that the areas of collaboration include leveraging on the private sector resources on administration, logistics, distribution, pharmacovigilance and technology.
“About 360 health facilities have so far been identified for the administration of the COVID19 vaccines in this phase of our vaccination campaign and of this number, 225 are public facilities while 135 are private facilities”, he said.
The Commissioner explained that administration of COVID19 vaccines remain free in public health facilities noting however that citizens may be required to pay an administrative fee of N6,000 for two doses of the vaccines in private health facilities, providing citizens with a choice.
He noted that citizens who prefer to receive the COVID19 vaccines at the private health facilities are not paying for the vaccines but instead will be paying only an administrative charge to the private facilities for resources and technology deployed in the administration.
“Let me just for the point of clarity say that we are not charging for the vaccine; the vaccine has been given to us by the Federal Government free, We are just charging and covering the cost of the logistics and the overheads of the private sector that has been brought in under the oversight of the government to make sure that we increase the number of vaccination site across Lagos and make sure that every citizens of Lagos can easily access a location where they can get a free vaccine or modest fee for vaccine administration”, Abayomi said.
While noting that the waves of COVID19 experienced in Lagos State have been caused by seasonal increase and influx of inbound passengers from other countries into Lagos, the Commissioner disclosed that the State government is poised to strictly enforce the new international travel protocols and guidelines for vaccinated and unvaccinated inbound passengers.
Abayomi while explaining that the State government promulgated the Lagos State Infectious Disease Regulation 2020 and the Lagos State COVID-19 law of 2021 in response to the global pandemic, stated that prosecution of defaulters and erring citizens in mobile courts will be swift.
According to him, categories of possible offences spelt about by the COVID law and regulations include; failure to isolate as per guidelines, failure to present for COVID PCR testing on designated days, providing false information, presenting fake PCR or vaccination certificates, breaking the rules of social distancing at gatherings creating super spreader events and corporate entities undermining the integrity of the State response.
“Several individuals and organizations refuse to abide by the guidelines and the laws; these individuals and organizations have constituted themselves into public health risks to the citizens of the State and have also breached the extant laws governing the management of the pandemic in Lagos State. Prosecution of these defaulters in mobile courts will be swift”, Abayomi said.