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Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Gbenga Omotoso; Lagos State Deputy Governor, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat; The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Strategy, Mr. Olusina Thorpe and Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi at the stakeholders’ forum on the Management and Control of Covid-19 (Coronavirus) in Lagos State on Tuesday
Community, religious and traditional leaders as well as unions, associations and educationists have been urged to cooperate with the Lagos State Government in spreading basic information to curb the spread of coronavirus among their community members and adherents.
The governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, made the call Tuesday while speaking at the stakeholders’ forum on the Management and Control of COVID-19, organised to sensitise Lagosians. The Governor noted that the event was convened to save the State the trauma of managing further spread of the Coronavirus.
Sanwo-Olu, represented by his deputy, Dr. Kadri Obafemi Hamzat, further urged citizens to stop gossip and rumour mongering on the coronavirus, saying that the outbreak called for caution and obedience to medical advice.
Said he: “Apart from the threat of Coronavirus, an issue of great concern is ‘fake news’ on the social media about the patient currently receiving treatment at the government facility”.
The Governor emphasised that any information that did not emanate from the Federal Ministry of Health, Lagos State Ministry of Health or the National Centre for Disease Control should be verified before spreading it on the social media, noting that as a responsible government, the present administration had to activate all medical procedures to ensure that the disease did not put the life of a majority of residents at risk.
He maintained that despite the fact that the government did not pray for an increase in the number of coronavirus cases, arrangements were in place to handle any further incidents that might be discovered in the coming days.
Alluding to the experience garnered during the Ebola outbreak in 2014, the Governor said a partnership with the Canadian government to set up Biosafety Level-3 Laboratory at the Mainland Hospital Yaba, enhanced the State government’s capacity to manage any disease outbreak, such as the Coronavirus which now exists in over 67 countries across the world.
He further called for all hands to be on deck to prevent the infection from growing among the populace, adding that Lagosians must adhere to the simple procedure that could break the chain of transmission of the disease.
Commenting on the symptoms, the Governor advised anyone with symptoms of fever, cough or experiencing difficulties in breathing to promptly seek medical attention at any of the Primary Healthcare Centres or General Hospitals that have been directed to attend to all patients who present themselves for treatment.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Gbenga Omotoso disclosed that the forum was convened to enlighten Lagosians on the Coronavirus, provide information about the journey so far and stop fake news that has been trending since the break of the disease in the last week.
He added that Lagosians needed to form a strong bond to ensure that there was compliance with medical advice to prevent an upscale of the coronavirus situation in the State, urging participants to assist the government in ensuring that the information shared at the forum was taken back home to the people.
In his remarks, the Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi stated that there was still only one case of Coronavirus in the State, the Italian who came into the country on February 24, assuring that there was an ongoing collaboration with the World Health Organisation to identify everyone who was on the plane with the index case.
While noting that, so far, 100 persons who were in same plane with the infected person had been identified and were being monitored on a daily basis, Abayomi emphasised that since the 2014 experience of the Ebola virus, the State government had been building capacity to handle any outbreak.
He, therefore, called on all citizens to cooperate with government efforts to curtail the spread of the virus by living healthy, maintaining good hygiene, washing their hands frequently and remaining indoors if they portrayed any symptoms of Coronavirus.
The representative of the World Health Organisation in Nigeria, Dr. Ifeanyi Okudor, commended the Lagos State Government for her preparedness and swiftness in handling the case so far, stressing that the organisation would continue to support the country and State in ensuring that the disease was effectively contained and eradicated in the country.
Dr. Ifeanyi charged Nigerians not to panic but ensure that they listen to authentic channels for information on the right things to know and do to curtail the spread of the virus.
Said he: “If we do the right thing, we can collectively curtail the spread of the virus. We need to maintain good hygiene and most importantly, we should always wash our hands. We don’t need to panic”.