Babajide Sanwo-Olu, governor of Lagos state, says his administration may be forced to review the ease of lockdown if residents continue to ignore public health guidelines.
President Muhammadu Buhari had eased the five-week lockdown he imposed on Lagos, Ogun and Abuja to check the spread of COVID-19.
But there have been complaints of non-adherence to the guidelines of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), particularly on social distancing, since Monday when residents were partially allowed to move freely.
Speaking during the maiden briefing after the ease of a five-week lockdown, Sanwo-Olu said: “Another round of interminable lockdown of movement and business activities would be introduced if there is no improvement in the adherence to the guidelines initiated to break the cycle of transmission of the dreaded virus.”
The government, he said, was taken aback, watching residents going about their businesses in the last five days after the ease of lockdown without complying with the public health guidelines despite “massive advocacy”.
Sanwo-Olu said the crowd observed at various banks and markets across the state flouted the public gathering directive, noting that the government would not watch while people violate the guidelines towards combating the pandemic.
“As a Government elected to uphold security of its citizens, which include health security, we will not hesitate to review the terms of the easing of lockdown if we do not see an improvement in adherence to our public health guidelines in the next couple of days,” he said.
“We will be forced to take a painful decision of bringing the entire system under lockdown if we continue to see evidence that Lagosians are determined to flout the rules.”
Sanwo-Olu said the state government’s order restricting the operation of commercial motorcycles, popularly known as Okada, had been defied, directing the police to confiscate any commercial motorcycle seen flouting his directive.
The governor also instructed security personnel to strictly enforce the ban on inter-state movement, directing the police to turn back all pedestrians trekking to Lagos from boundary highways.
“We are at a critical point in the management of the COVID-19 pandemic where every citizen of the State needs to take responsibility for their health and wellbeing,” he said.
“As citizens, we have a great burden upon us, to behave responsibly. These times demand a lot from us, in terms of actions and behaviours that may not be comfortable. To stay alive and well, we have to abandon old habits and customs, and adopt new ones.”
The governor said there would be a change in the state’s isolation strategy in the coming weeks, pointing out that Lagos was transiting towards decentralisation of management of COVID-19 cases, which would lead to the accreditation and incorporation of primary healthcare facilities and private hospitals for the treatment of mild-to-moderate cases.
“As we eased restrictions on movement, we have increased our testing capacity and we are also actively increasing our isolation capacity. Members of the public will also see a change in our isolation strategy in the weeks ahead, as we transition towards decentralisation,” he said.
“What this means is that, we will be introducing community management of cases, by accrediting and incorporating primary healthcare facilities and private healthcare facilities for the management of mild-to-moderate cases of COVID-19 patients. However, we will guide this initiative carefully to ensure that it is not done at the expense of the capacity required to handle other medical cases.”