Alarmed by the sudden spike in the infection rate of Covid-19 in the state, and determined to extricate itself from the web of bureaucracy that has bogged down federal government’s efforts at making the vaccine available at home, the Lagos State Government has decided to buy directly from the manufacturers of the vaccine.
The state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Moyosore Onigbanjo, SAN, disclosed this on Saturday while reacting to a statement addressed to him by a concerned citizen, simply identified as Mr Uthman, accusing the state government of incapacity and unwillingness to enforce compliance with COVID-19 pandemic protocols in the state.
Recall that the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said the country was expecting over 10 million doses of the COVID-19 viral vector vaccine which is expected to arrive sometime in March 2021. The minister added that 100,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, besides the 10 million doses, are being expected in the country.
Onigbanjo said the decision to buy directly from the manufacturers became imperative following rising cases of patients needing treatments urgently.
According to him, “It is correct that Lagos State has the highest number of infections and sadly fatalities from COVID-19 in Nigeria. The State Government itself never shied away from admitting that Lagos is indeed the epicentre of the virus in Nigeria. But is it “business-as-usual”? Most certainly not.
“Since the first index patient was confirmed on 27 February 2020, Lagos State Government has led from the front in tackling the pandemic. It was Lagos State who also first introduced; reduced working hours for all sectors of the economy in the State; directed that all its staff between levels 1-14 should work from home; closed all bars, gyms, lounges and cinemas; restricted restaurants to offering take-out services only; and closed worship centres.
“The first lockdown, to contain the pandemic was declared in Lagos on 30 March 2020.
“The first fully equipped isolation centres sprang up in Lagos. At its peak, the State had a total bed space of 600 reserved exclusively for COVID-19 patients. The State also led and still leads nationwide in administering COVID- 19 tests.
“As at date we are testing about 3000 persons a day from 60 public and 20 private Sample collection centres, spread out across 57 Local Government and Central Public Health Labs in the State.
“Thousands of people have been successfully treated and discharged from our isolation centres and home-based care to date.
“When the second wave started, Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu (even while just recovering from being infected with the virus) addressed a press conference on 18 December 2020 and shut down, nightclubs, lounges, concerts and bars.
“A plan to construct three oxygen plants was launched and on the 8th of January 2021, the first installed oxygen plant was commissioned at Infectious Disease Hospital, Yaba. This is capable of producing 60 large cylinders a day of high-grade medical oxygen.
“The state government is also currently discussing with vaccine manufacturers with a view to making vaccines available to Lagosians.”
On enforcement, Onigbanjo, disclosed, “Since the advent of the second wave, 566 people have been arrested for breaching the COVID-19 Regulations. 502 persons have been prosecuted and convicted to date, 32 clubs and event centres have been shut by the Lagos State Safety Commission including the Event Hall of Eko club, which was shut on 12 January 2021.
“To further strengthen these measures, our prosecutors have started requesting presiding Magistrates to ensure that everyone apprehended for breaching the COVID-19 Regulations is made to undergo a mandatory COVID-19 test in addition to any fine or sentence that might be imposed. Anyone who tests positive is immediately taken to one of our isolation centres.
“COVID-19 test are still conducted for free at state government test and sample centres. About 20 private laboratories were to carry out the test in order to provide alternatives to members of the public who want their tests done for a variety of reasons. It is only these private labs who charge a fee for tests.
“To therefore state that there isn’t any decipherable commitment by the State government is to blatantly overlook the numerous initiatives and steps taken by the State government to protect lives and property.
“As we continue to monitor the situation of things closely and review the safety guidelines in the state, we will intensify efforts on awareness for Lagosians to remain cautious in these unusual times.”
Onibanjo therefore, assured that “the state government will not relent in its efforts and commitment to fight this lethal but invincible adversary.”