By next week, the use of face mask may be made mandatory in Lagos State, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu revealed on Monday during a statewide briefing held at the State House in Marina.
The Governor said the rise in the number of confirmed cases of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the State indicated a slow spread of community transmission, noting that there was need to strengthen and ramp up the Government’s response to contain the infectious disease.
Sanwo-Olu said the State had already embarked on local production face mask in large quantities. The masks, he said, will be pocket-friendly and suit the local environment.
The Governor said Lagos witnessed its worst COVID-19 cases last Sunday, recording 70 new cases and bringing total tally of active cases in the State to 379. The confirmation of the new cases, he said, was part of the successes of the house-to-house and community searching the State Government embarked on, stressing that one million households had been covered.
He added that the State had maintained 25 to 30 per cent rate of discharged cases.
Sanwo-Olu, however, said there was no need to panic in spite of the rising cases, revealing that the State had localised testing by opening sample collection centres across 20 Local Government Areas in Lagos.
He said: “The increase in numbers we are seeing is evidence of the success of our evolving strategy of ramping up testing by going into local communities to search for cases. You may have heard that we have recently set up sample collection centers across our 20 Local Government Areas.
“The most appropriate response from us as a Government is to tell residents not to panic; but to strengthen our resolve to continue to obey all the directives around physical distancing, respiratory hygiene, and staying at home.
“Also, there have been questions about whether the State Government is planning to introduce a face mask wearing policy. Our simple answer is that it may be compulsory to wear one in public places from next week. We have already commissioned local production of face masks in large quantities in a way that will suit our environment and be pocket friendly.”
Sanwo-Olu cautioned against panic buying, saying only health workers on the frontline would be required to strictly adhere to the face mask guideline. He added that millions of locally made face masks would be distributed to a large number of residents by next week.
The Governor condemned the “dangerous act” of stigmatisation against survivors of COVID-19, saying such act was discouraging infected people from willfully coming out for testing and treatment.
He said: “We have had instances where people, who are suspected of having the virus, have declined to present themselves for testing and treatment, more often than not, opting to manage their symptoms by themselves or in extreme cases going to private hospitals and lying about their symptoms or travel history.
“These actions are extremely unfortunate and dangerous. Not only do they have wide ranging ramifications on everyone, it also portends great consequences on our ability to record any meaningful gains from this lockdown that we have all been subjected to.
Sanwo-Olu said his Government had responded in strong terms to security situation across the State, observing that the intervention by a special squad deployed by the Inspector General of Police in Lagos and Ogun has boosted security.
He warned criminals and bandits to steer clear of the State, saying: “I can assure you that all hands are on deck to send the strongest possible message that Lagos will not succumb to the antics of hoodlums and bandits who seek to take advantage of these challenging times.”
As Muslims begin Ramadan fasting later in the week, the Governor appealed to them to obey the Government’s guidelines on public gathering and social distancing.
He said: “As we prepare to observe the Ramadan fast, we have a responsibility to continue to maintain appropriate levels of respiratory hygiene and physical distancing, and observe the restrictions on the permissible size of gatherings. Our directives prohibit gatherings of more than 25 persons, regardless of the circumstances. This has not changed.”