Dispute rages in Lagos over lockdown’s likely return

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WILL lockdown return to Lagos as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the nation’s commercial capital?

This question is generating intense controversy in the social media as Lagosians participate in an online poll over whether the stay-at-home order, which President Muhammadu Buhari lifted on May 4, should return.

In the nationwide tally, there were 2,558 cases on the day the lockdown was eased and replaced with 8pm to 6am curfew, but the number has risen to 4,787 as of Wednesday, an increase of 87.1 per cent.

The number of deaths rose from 87 to 158 within nine days, which comes to 81.6 per cent increase.

Active cases increased by 77.2 per cent, from 2,071 to 3,670 in nine days.

The number of recovered cases rose from 400 to 959, an increase of 139.75 per cent.

Lagos, Kano and FCT continue to record the highest number of cases.

Total cases in Lagos were 1,109 on May 4 but rose to 1,990 as of 9pm on Wednesday, an increase of 79.4 per cent.

Kano, which is still on lockdown, had 342 on May 4 but recorded 693 cases nine days after, a significant 102.632 per cent increase.

FCT had 278 cases on May 4, but only recorded a 29.4 per cent increase in nine days.

Many Lagosians have been canvassing the return of the lockdown largely because the people have not obeyed the protocols prescribed by health authorities in the breach.

Social distancing and use of face masks in public are being disregarded as community transmission of the virus increases.

In the online poll on the official twitter handle of the Lagos State government, which began on Tuesday, 50 per cent of respondents as at 10:30pm  voted for the return of lockdown.

Thirty-nine per cent are opposed to another lockdown.

Eleven per cent are undecided. 66,779 votes had been recorded. Votes are due to close tomorrow.

Many of the voters shared their opinions on what motivated their voting pattern.

Trending #NoLagosLockdown, they argued that a greater percentage of the population suffered untold hardship during the lockdown with a lot of people almost starving to death.

They said there was need for people to be exposed to the virus so that they can be immune to it, adding that locking down was unnecessary since the virus is as common as a flu.

People’s Democratic Party (PDP) governorship aspirant Babatunde Gbadamosi said: “Considering that government could do more testing, provide immune-boosting supplements, face masks and Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), procure treatment medication like Hydroxychloroquine, Zinc-sulphate and Azithromycin, Pax Covid and Prof. Iwu’s solution; is lockdown necessary when it will cause hunger?

Chidimma Ifeoma said: “Your Excellency sir, the lockdown is uncalled for. Do you want to kill your citizens. People cannot stay home if they do not have what will sustain them at home.”

Teco Obi argued that it was callous to suggest a further lockdown, adding that it was better to learn how to stay safe while developing home-grown cure for the disease.

Linda Triump said the lockdown had proven to be more harmful to health and not needed in Lagos nor anywhere else.

Giem Denise said: “No palliative was distributed during the lockdown. Hunger increased, people lost their jobs, insecurity increased. Coronavirus cases didn’t drop either.”

To Rachael Emmanuel, lockdown could lead to more deaths, wondering what will happen to pupils whose parents cannot afford devices that enable e-learning should the lockdown be restored.

Sharpman Olumati said: “We achieved one thing with the lockdown and that is NOTHING! Absolutely nothing. Only fools continue repeating same patterns and cycles with expectations of radically different results.

Chinedu Kejeh wrote: “You still have data to come online, your office paid you full salary, you can still order food to your doorstep, you have steady electricity supply, that’s why you can vote for the continuation of a most ineffective lockdown.

“How did we become so selfish and callous? How did we get to the point were we can comfortably shut our eyes to the glaring suffering of many poor people in our society. You are ignoring a visible enemy (hunger) to fight an invisible  enemy (COVID 19).

“The lockdown is anti-science. The only result we can see is further untold hardship. In New York City, 66% of the infected people were at home, and only 2% of that infected population were homeless people. What does this suggest?

“Maybe when you lose your job, maybe when you exhaust your savings, maybe when your safe neighborhood is attacked by hungry bandits and robbed of not money but foodstuffs, maybe, just maybe your eyes wouId be open to the utter folly behind an extended lockdown.”

Arewa Omidan said any lockdown without corresponding palliative would be a futile effort. “Despite the lockdown, cases are increasing. Some have lost their jobs. How do people like private school teachers survive? Uber drivers and many others?

“If you lock them in again, be ready for the outcome. If you reaIly care about the people you are leading, remember there are those who have to go out everyday to make a living. If you can’t take care of them, then there’s no need for another lockdown.”

A top official of the Lagos State Government said the poll is part of the civic engagement of the government to gauge the mood of the people.

According to him, the outcome will not be the only determinant of the government’s decision on whether the lockdown should return or status quo maintained.

“Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu relies on the advice of health experts to take his decisions and not on emotional outburst of the people.”

“Mr. governor wants the best for the people all the time,” he said.

Governor Sanwo-Olu is expected to address Lagosians tomorrow.

Some people argue that the governor might have used the survey to test the waters ahead of his decision to return the lockdown.

The rising figures could be due to increased testing capacity. The testing laboratories have increased from 15 to 25. More laboratories are also getting ready to go to use.

As of May 11, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) had tested no fewer than 28,418 samples.

As part of efforts to ramp up testing capacity, the agency issued guidelines for private laboratories to also test for COVID-19.

During the Presidential Taskforce on COVID19 media briefing on Tuesday, Minister of Health Dr Osagie Ehanire said: “We have added three new labs to our molecular network of COVID19 laboratories to bring the total number to 25.”

NCDC Director-General Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu said Nigeria had not reached the peak of COVID-19 infections.

According to him, the number will continue to rise as testing capacity increases.

“We have improved our capacity to test more people…As we increase the capacity, the numbers will rise.

“We are bringing the test closer to the people. The higher the number of testing conducted, the better for us to contain the outbreak,” he said.

The Nation

– May 14, 2020 @ 08:45 GMT |

 

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