Coronavirus: Implications Of Easing Lockdown Measures In Lagos State

By Ikenga Chronicles May 3, 2020

Coronavirus: Implications Of Easing Lockdown Measures In Lagos State

— By Muyiwa Olayinka

Just like Wuhan a city in Hubei province of China is the epicenter of the pandemic Coronavirus, Lagos has also become the epicenter in Nigeria. Lagos is the commercial and nerve center of Nigeria, so the reverse cannot be the case. Lagos hosts the busiest airport in Nigeria (Murtala International Airport) and the biggest and functional port (Apapa port) in the country.

The city is the gateway to international business in the country, since it has brought wealth to this African most populous city in the world, so also it cannot be extricated from the negative consequences as a result of its strategic importance

Since February 27th 2020 when the Italian index case berthed in Nigeria, it has since spread to other 31 states of the federation making a total of 32 excluding only 4. Lagos has shown political will of taming the spread, but unfortunately it has not translated to commeasurable success in stopping the spread.

How Can Nigerians Stay At Home When They Have No Home?

Daily figures released by Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) shows spike in the rate of infections in Lagos compared to other states. This is caused not only by attitudinal factors or non-cooperative of the citizens of the state to abide by the lockdown procedures but also limited and available of medical equipment that has been stretched beyond limits.
Many Lagosians have died untimely from this disease because the limited isolation centers have been filled to the brim.

For example, the untimely death of 60 years old lawyer, Mr Jide Arije brings to the fore the limited availability of facilities. According to family sources, late Arije frantically contacted the Lagos state Commissioner for Health, Prof Akin Abayomi earlier, when he noticed the symptoms in the morning of Sunday April 26th, at the same time he reached out to numbers provided by NCDC, none responded until he was evacuated around 1pm. He later died around 5pm the same day.

According to a popular Lagos based lawyer, Ebun Olu Adegboruwa said there are cases where many that showed symptoms and contacted the designated centers at Landmark Isolation center in Oniru , Victoria Island and Infectious Disease Hospital, Yaba, were turned back. The death of Arije is one of many unreported deaths in Lagos metropolis that is rather unfortunate and avoidable.

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The Minister of Health, Senator Ehanire recently called for donation of private buildings as the nation is coping with the increasing and surging numbers of people infected. It is imperative to accept that the nation lacks basic medical facilities and in dire need of support of all while the figures are increasing.

The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), epidemiologists and other relevant medical personnel have not been able to contribute in finding the cure or vaccine either orthodox or unorthodox means to tame the spread. Professor Maurice Iwu, a Nigerian Professor of Pharmacognosy has presented a plant-based patented treatment for possible cure for coronavirus.

Also a team of scientists led by Professors Ademola Ladele and Rasheed Awodoyin from University of Ibadan (UI) recommended a plant called Euphorbia Hirta as an herbal alternative to mitigating some of the diseases associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the UI scientists, some of the diseases, which the plant can cure, include dry cough, respiratory failures and fever, but all these interventions have not been evaluated by relevant authorities.

The Solution To The World’s Problem

While we tarry, we have recorded 2170 infections with 68 deaths so far, with Lagos state having 1006 (about 50%). The figures are scary and on upward swing as I’m writing this article.

Meanwhile countries like Senegal and Madagascar have come into world’s reckoning with individual interventions. Senegal, a neighboring small West African has been able to develop Coronavirus testing kit that costs $1 and a ventilator which costs $60. The kit can deliver results in about 10 minutes and can be used at home like a pregnancy test kit.
With a population of over 16 million people, and only 50 ventilators nationwide, Senegalese engineers developed 3D printing ventilators for $60 as opposed to the $16,000 ventilators available worldwide.

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The country is also gearing towards producing between two to four million kits that can be used in other countries as well as domestically. According to worldometer, Senegal has recorded 9 deaths so far with 1115 infections

Madagascar, the largest African island situated in the Indian Ocean produced an unorthodox mixture, Convid Organics, developed by the Malagasy Institute of Applied Research. A liquid mixture that contains Artemisia, a plant cultivated on the Big Island to fight against malaria is the major ingredient of Convid Organics. Madagascar has 132 confirmed cases but has not recorded any death.

COVID 19: ‘Social Distancing Is Not Our Culture; We Care For The Sick Amongst Us’

In the midst of this confusion, the Federal Government eased the lockdown with stringent measures such as imposition of curfews in cities like Abuja, Lagos and Ogun but tightened it in Kano state with recent upsurge of Coronavirus infection in the Northern state. As a follow up to Federal government’s directives, the Lagos state Governor of Lagos, Babajide Sanwoolu rolled out measures that included:

  1. State public officers from level 1 to 12 should remain and work from home unless otherwise directed by their Accounting Officers
  2. All businesses must operate between the hours of 9am to 3pm. The new directive on business operating hours affects all corporate firms, banks, malls and local markets.
  3. All commuters are mandated to wear face masks at all times, sanitise with alcohol-based sanitizer or wash their hands with soap and running water before and after of every trip. All motor parks and garages must avoid overcrowding. Social distancing is required for passengers queuing up to board buses. All buses should be loaded to a maximum of 60 per cent of full capacity. No standing allowed in all BRT and LBSL bus operations. All air- conditioning systems in public transport systems must be switched off.
  4. All public and private schools from primary level to tertiary education must remain closed
  5. “All entertainment centers, such as event centers, cinemas, arcades, bars, casinos, day clubs, nightclubs and beaches shall remain closed till further notice. Swimming pools, gyms, barber-shops, Spas, beauty salons, and all public parks, including those in private and residential estates, will continue to remain closed for another two weeks in the instance
  6. Compulsory wearing of masks by all Lagos residents
    Sanwoolu said businesses will be allowed to operate within “Controlled Easing Phase” framework, clarifying that the expiration of the lockdown was not a directive for the full reopening of the economy.

While these measures are well thought out by governments, some of these measures may be difficult to implement especially in the areas of transportation and social distancing. Lagos state’s public transportation has not been well structured, but largely dominated by disorganized and disjointed private owners. Almost 65% of public transportation is owned by individuals so to enforce 60% threshold proposed by LASG is utopian.

Different Faces of an Emergency

The popular “yellow buses” are unruly, violating safety codes at will, picking passengers at undesignated parks and are not welfare driven. LASG has been effortlessly battling to curtail operators of Okada and Keke Marwa with enforcement of the Transport Sector Reform Law of 2018 , so it remains yet to see how it is feasible to ban them out rightly at this pertinent period.

How does government enforce the curfew imposed between the hours of operation of 9am to 3pm when the grueling grid lock traffic situations is yet to abate?

Many popular major Lagos markets were built some years back without complying with city and urban planning laws and regulations. They are chaotic and clustered together. It is going to be difficult to maintain personal hygiene and social distancing.

We should be mindful that Coronavirus broke out in one of the markets in China’s Wuhan city; I hope Lagos is not going to experience a spike in the rate of infections during this easing phase and may we not live to regret taking these hasty decisions.

May God protect and heal our land, Amen