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COVID-19: Oyo govt tells civil, public servants to stay off work for two weeks

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As part of measures put in place by the Oyo State government to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in the state, the government, on Wednesday, directed civil and public servants in the employment of the state, local governments and Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) to stay off work for two weeks.

According to a statement made available on Wednesday by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, it indicated that civil/public servants across all cadres in the state should stay off work as the state studies the situation.

The statement, however, noted that only persons on essential services are allowed to remain on duty for now.

The statement read in part: “The Oyo State civil service will shut down for two weeks from, Friday, March 27, 2020. Only workers rendering essential services will be required to report for duty.“We still have one confirmed case of Coronavirus in Oyo State, the Bodija case, who is receiving treatment at the isolation centre – the Agbami Chest Centre, Jericho, Ibadan.

“Additional numbers have been added to the Emergency Operations Centre’s Helplines. Please call these numbers for any issue related to Coronavirus: 08095394000 / 08095963000 / 08078288999 / 08078288800“The returnee from the USA in Oluyole Local Government Area is still asymptomatic. She has completed her 14-day self-isolation period (March 8-22).

“New guidelines on public transportation have been issued by the Ministry of Public Works, Infrastructure and Transportation to ensure proper hygienic standards and social distancing.

“All transport operators and park managers are to provide at the entrance of their respective parks/garages, hand washing facilities with soap and running water. They are to provide alcohol-based sanitizers in their vehicles for the use of drivers, conductors and passengers. Standing is prohibited in public mass transit buses and there must be a minimum of one seat interval between passengers. Tricycles are limited to three passengers and commercial motorcycles are limited to one passenger only.

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“Enlightenment campaigns on Coronavirus in English and Yoruba have commenced in the media. Street to street public announcements using megaphones have commenced in the rural areas.

“We have received reports of a few private schools flouting the directive for closure of schools. A task force from SUBEB, TESCOM and the Ministry of Education have been authorised to take appropriate action against any school flouting this directive.

“Any school acting in breach of the directive can be reported by calling the Emergency Operations Centre Helplines; 08095394000 / 08095963000 / 08078288999 / 08078288800.

”According to the statement, the directive to shut down the state and local government secretariats was coming on the heels earlier directives to close the schools and the ban religious and social gatherings”.

The statement added that a team of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) was already in the State to support activities aimed at containing the virus by the government.It noted that the government has put in place all precautionary measures needed to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the good people of Oyo State.

The statement further stressed  that a number of those who have had contact with the index case were already in self-isolation.According to the statement, Oyo State COVID-19 Task Force Enforcement Team and a number of sub-committees have been put in place, while an enforcement committee flagged off activities on Wednesday.

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It stated that the surveillance and contact-tracing of some persons who recently returned to Nigerian from different Coronavirus-infected countries have been ongoing, while those who have been tracked are being closely monitored.

The statement further read: “Our Emergency Operation Centre is already fully operational. It will interest the public to know that the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has already sent a team of experts that is working in collaboration with our technical team on COVID-19. The area of collaboration covers training as well as the immediate setting up of a Diagnostic Centre that will make testing less stressful while at the same time eliminating the time length between sample collection and results.

“I am also pleased to tell our people that the NCDC team has completed training for our officials who will man the Diagnostic Centre and that the Centre would be ready for NCDC certification by the end of the week.

“Some persons would want to question why we are spending big to put up a Diagnostic Centre. The time lag between the collection of samples and receipt of results make the setting up of the Centre imperative. The experience we have with the index case appears almost frustrating as the sample took hours before getting to the National Reference Centre in Lagos.

“When the Diagnostic Centre is eventually set up, it will make a huge impact in the health infrastructure in place for the management and containment of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Oyo State.

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”The statement also indicated that besides locking down the State Secretariat and local governments in the state, the COVID-19 Task Force and other sub-committees have commenced engagement and sensitisation drives around the markets, motor parks and mechanic workshops.

“They are also engaging with other artisans and the message is simple; it is only when you are alive that you can ply your trade or make money,” the statement added.

The statement indicated that the government thanked the management of the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, the NCDC and other Nigerians who have positively collaborated with the state government to combat the virus.

The statement, however, admonished residents of the state to stop making frivolous calls to the Emergency Operating Centre, adding that people should only call the centre when they have genuine and serious cases.

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COVID-19 response in southern Nigeria boosts surveillance of other diseases

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In many countries, tackling the COVID-19 pandemic has taken cues from other disease approaches, such as lessons from protecting communities against Ebola. But in Nigeria’s Niger Delta, health workers have found inspiration from guarding against the coronavirus.

They have exploited the rigorous surveillance standard set by the COVID-19 response to keep from losing sight of other priority diseases. Mostly what they have learned is how not to divide their attention.

The unifying surveillance strategy they have enveloped is quickly producing significant and – possibly oddly – uplifting results.

“I recorded my first acute flaccid paralysis case since last year while I was following up on the contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19,” says Sarah Oladimeji, a Diseases and Surveillance Notification Officer in charge of finding cases of preventable and infectious diseases in Oredo Local Government Area of Nigeria’s Edo State.

When COVID-19 crept into the southern Delta region in April, health workers had to learn to overcome their worries and hunkered down to the needed work. The odds seemed stacked against the six states that make up the South-South zone: Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo and Rivers. COVID-19 cases increased daily while community attitudes towards the virus grew lax. Health workers scrambled to manage the time and resources available to respond to both COVID-19 and other endemic-prone diseases.

One solution government teams and health workers hit upon: bring the aggressive COVID-19 surveillance into the systems used to monitor priority diseases.

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Across the Niger Delta, the World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners retrained 3874 surveillance officers who had been mobilized to detect COVID-19 cases in hospitals and communities to also look for acute flaccid paralysis (AFP), polio, meningitis, cholera, neonatal tetanus, yellow fever, measles and more.

After the Government decentralized the COVID-19 response in April, some states began also training religious and community leaders – who are often important decision-makers, influencers and informants – to help find and report suspected COVID-19 and other priority diseases in their communities.

Now, four months into the region’s COVID-19 outbreak, health workers are seeing spectacular efficiency. Detected cases of AFP, for example, increased substantially (doubling and even tripling in one state) between the end of March and end of July as the harmonized surveillance ramped up.

Protecting immunization gains

Keeping eyes on both COVID-19 and other diseases, most of which are vaccine-preventable, is an important but challenging task in the Niger Delta where immunization coverage had been low for years. Located along the Niger River and the Gulf of Guinea, the Niger Delta, or South-South zone, comprises a system of coastal communities that rely on farming and fishing. Waterway systems here are often inadequate and moving around is difficult. In the past, residents in the deepest riverine communities, far from a mainland, had little luck accessing a health centre. Many were discouraged by the distance from taking their children for vaccinations, which led the region to its poor immunization coverage and thus heightened risk of disease outbreaks.

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Since 2016, community engagement, better access to health care and increased surveillance have led to rising numbers of vaccinated children. Health workers now attend patients in on-sea treatment centres or travel into the deep-river communities by canoe to provide services.

Navigating the creek communities may be hard but health workers accept that medical care has no boundaries, says Dr Edmund Ogbe, WHO Coordinator for Bayelsa State. Public health commitment and resourcefulness seem to be ingrained characteristics of this region.

Increased detection of measles and yellow fever

To protect their gains in immunization coverage and keep from neglecting other worrisome diseases in these times of COVID-19, the integrated surveillance is making a difference. In March, Bayelsa State recorded nine cases of AFP. But 16 new cases were investigated over the next four months – a 180% increase.

With COVID-19 case findings now meshed with the systems used to detect and report priority diseases, more cases of measles and yellow fever are emerging, too. The reported numbers of both diseases increased considerably between the end of March and the end of July. In a couple states, case detection nearly doubled.

The next step will be to accelerate case search throughout the region. State governments in the South-South zone, supported by WHO, continue to train more surveillance officers and community informants on combining COVID-19 and preventable-disease surveillance. Involving communities by educating them and appointing them as public health informants will help ensure that the combined surveillance continues to be a success, says Dr Olubowale Ekundare Famiyesin, WHO Zonal Coordinator of the Niger Delta.

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Early detection of any disease is the goal for health workers in the Delta. “All resources for surveillance at our disposal will be deployed to improve early infectious disease detection and reporting, including COVID-19,” Dr Famiyesin promises.

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COVID-19:Oyo trains health workers on decontamination response 

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The Seyi Makinde -led government in Oyo state on Tuesday trained no fewer than 77 environmental health officers on containment and decontamination response initiative to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the state.

Also, each team had been provided with a revolving N500,000 seed grant for the purchase of chemicals and logistics.

The state’s Team Lead of the Containment and Decontamination Project, Prof. Olanike Adeyemo who disclosed this during  a training programme on COVID-19 Decontamination Response Network held at the University of Ibadan ahead of the commencement of the initiative, also noted that the initiative would focus on the next phase in the containment of COVID-19 in the state.

The training had in attendance representatives of environmental health officers in all the 33 local government areas which had been divided into seven zones.

According to Prof. Adeyemo, “COVID-19 has spread beyond Ibadan and what that means is that the government has to be responsive to do what is right.

“You can imagine if there is an incidence in Ibarapa and another one in Iseyin, it would be very difficult for the state containment team to cover all.

“So what the government is doing is to decentralise the containment efforts.

“Containment is not all about decontamination, it is a lot of things, so this is embedded in the local government system. Every local government has an environmental health unit.

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“These are the people that are being trained because they are on the staff of the Oyo State government already to be able to take up this task as frontliners,” she added.

Speaking further, she stressed the need for self policing, disclosing that compliance  form had been made available to report violators of COVID-19 guidelines.

Reacting to the high rate of COVID-19 cases in the state, Adeyemo explained that there was the need to work more on compliance to reduce infections.

‘If you look at the mortality rate and you look at Oyo State and compare it with Edo state that is behind us and you compare the mortality, definitely they are under reporting in those states.

“I think Oyo State is doing more testing and we are reporting a closer to accurate number and that is why we are high there.

“But when you compare the mortality rate for people behind Oyo State on the NCDC list of confirmed cases then you will see that their mortality is higher.

“And it is just science, the more the cases the more likely people will die. So it’s easy to extrapolate that those states that have very high mortality but low numbers of confirmed cases are under reporting”, she continued.

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Also commenting, Mr Mojeed Mogbonjubola, the Deputy Chief of Staff to the Governor, informed that the decentralisation of containment was the initiative of the administration.

“It is quite unfortunate that the pandemic is spreading really wide and we couldn’t contain it in Ibadan.

“What His Excellency is trying to do in conjunction with the University of Ibadan is to extend the committee’s team to other regions of the state.

“This is about a call to service. Like I always advise people it is a privilege for everybody to be part of this and it is something that will stay with us for a very long time.

“Since there is no vaccine to control the virus the only way is to contain it and decontaminate affected zones,” he  submitted.

Remarking, the Personal Assistant to  Governor Makinde,  Alhaji Akeem Azeez urged residents to own their actions as well as their safety since the virus had spread all over the state.

Mr Tunde Adeyanju, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, averred that there was the need for a very good response in view of the rate of infections in the state.

A technical expert in the team, Prof. Victoria Adetunji,  however urged participants to adhere strictly to precautions in handling the decontamination equipment while engaging in evaluation of their activities.

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Use of RDT kits for COVID-19 test is illegal in Lagos – Commissioner

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The Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Professor Akin Abayomi has reiterated that the use of Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) Kits for COVID-19 testing in Lagos remains illegal until the State can validate that the kits actually work.

Abayomi stated this at a news briefing on COVID-19Lagos Response, explaining that RDT kits have a very high risk of giving false positive or negative results which could be traumatising for citizens.

“In the event that a false-positive result is given, a potentially negative person will be subjected to trauma, isolation and treatment like a positive patient. And in the event that a false negative is given, a potentially positive person is allowed to continue to roam freely in the community regardless of his positive status and as a result, the use of RDT kits is illegal until Lagos State can validate RDT kits that actually work”, he insisted.

The Commissioner explained that the State Government had considered the use of Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) Kits as part of the strategies to expand its testing capacity but noted, however, that none of the RDT kits submitted for validation passed the required test.

“In order to expand our testing capacity, we considered the use of RDT Kits and to facilitate the quick validation of the RDT Kits and reduce the barrier of entry for proposed manufacturers and suppliers of RDT Kits, Mr. Governor paid the validation fees for the RDT kits. However, upon review of several RDT kits that were submitted for validation, we can report that none of the RDT kits passed the validation exercise”, Abayomi disclosed.

While noting that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has not declared any RDT kit useful for public use, Abayomi stated that it is also illegal for private health facilities to test or manage COVID-19 cases without proper accreditation and validation by the regulatory authorities.

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“It has come to our attention that several laboratories and health facilities are testing and managing COVID patients without proper accreditation and validation by the regulatory authorities. Two laboratories were sealed as a result of this. We will continue to closely monitor all facilities that partake in these illegal activities and endanger the lives of all residents of Lagos State and instigate punitive measures to ensure they desist from such activities”, the Commissioner said.

Disclosing that only seven private laboratories were already accredited by the State government, he maintained that the second phase of accreditation and validation of laboratories will be conducted when the demand arises.

Abayomi added that the State Government has also only accredited three private facilities and is currently in the process of accrediting more, including general practitioners and small clinics, that are interested in partaking in the soon to be launched community-based and home-based care program.

“It is important to reiterate that the COVID-19 pandemic is a public health emergency and the Lagos State Government has adopted a central planning approach to managing its response”, he stated.

Assuring that plans are in top gear by the State government to scale up sample collection at the 20 LGAs to include the 37 LCDAs in order to improve the efficiency of sample collection in the community, Prof. Abayomi disclosed that residents will have access to free oxygen therapy at some of the centres, if required, while arrangements will be made to transfer such a person to a COVID-19 Centre.

Abayomi hinted that the State government will in the next couple days transition to the next phase of the COVID-19 response, which he referred to as the community-based care.

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“Under the community-based care arrangement, we provide the opportunity for mild-to-moderate cases being managed and isolated at home in situations where this is allowed. However, our critical-to-severe cases will be continually managed in our COVID-19 isolation centres, where they will have the opportunity of the best treatment available”, the Commissioner assured.

Stating that a date for the commencement of home-based care will be formally announced soon, Abayomi observed that vulnerable, elderly and severe-to-critically ill patients will be managed at the isolation centres to ensure that they receive the best possible care available.

Giving epidemiology statistics on COVID-19 cases in Lagos State, the Commissioner said that over 56,276 COVID-19 tests have been conducted so far while the total number of positive cases stands at 13,543, pointing out that of the 2,476 COVID-19 patients admitted so far, 2,075 have been discharged to reunite with society after recovery.

Abayomi added that no fewer than 9,066 confirmed COVID-19 cases monitored in the communities by the COVID-19Lagos response teams have either recovered or are positively responding to treatments, noting that 192 COVID-19 related deaths have been recorded in Lagos.

He disclosed that Eti-Osa Local Government has the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases with Eti-Osa, Alimosho, Kosofe, Ikeja and Oshodi accounting for 60% of the total COVID-19 cases in Lagos State.

Commenting on the COVID-19 Lagos community engagement, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Gbenga Omotoso, emphasised the need for citizens to wear face masks correctly, especially in public places to curtail the spread of the virus.

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Omotoso reaffirmed the State government’s commitment to securing the lives of citizens, disclosing that necessary precautions and guidelines stipulated by professionals will be taken before schools and religious centres reopen while the government will not take any risks with public health issues.

“Some of the reports we are getting that people do not want to wear face masks are not too good. What we are dealing with is a very dangerous enemy that has no remedy anywhere in the world. Humanity is just trying to curtail this terrible situation”, Omotoso said.

He maintained that the proper use of face marks will reduce the possibility of an infection and urged citizens to take responsibility for proper use of face masks, saying they do not need to wait for enforcement before adhering to directives on the use of face masks.

“I assure you that schools and religious institutions will be opened as soon as the go-ahead is given. We have to wait for the professionals so that we do not put ourselves in trouble. The State remains committed to securing lives and property of Lagosiapractitioners

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