In order to increase COVID-19 testing capacity in Lagos, the State Government has set up sampling stations in the 20 local government areas of the State for citizens, who fit the case definition of COVID-19, to visit and drop samples for testing. Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi stated this at a Press Briefing to give situation report on COVID-19 in Lagos, noting that the strategy is geared towards bringing COVID-19 testing opportunity closer to the people as well as taking work strain off health workers who visit several local governments for case search and sample collection.
Abayomi stressed that the new arrangement provides an opportunity for people with symptoms of COVID-19 at the local government to present themselves early for testing. He said, “we have decentralised the locations where you can have yourself submitted for sampling. So what we’ve done is to move sampling stations to the local government. And if you feel that you have any of the symptoms associated with COVID-19, you can present yourself to this decentralised sampling stations”.
Explaining further, the Commissioner clarified that “they are not testing stations, they are sampling stations and if you meet the criteria for testing, you will be able to receive the counsel of the staff and your sample will be taken”.
“We are not just testing anybody, there are criteria for testing; you either must have COVID-19 symptoms to meet the case definition or be in close contact with somebody that has been confirmed with COVID-19. Your samples will be taken and it would then be sent to one of our accredited testing facilities and those facilities will then perform the tests”, the Commissioner noted.
The strategy, Abayomi said, will help the COVID-19 response team get a better idea of what is going in the community and also aid early diagnosis of the disease at the local government level.
While answering a question on the use of facemask for COVID-19 prevention, Professor Abayomi disclosed that wearing of face masks does not protect against COVID-19 Infection but rather protects people around an infected person from an increased amount of aerosol generated from coughing or sneezing.
“There is some theoretical evidence that the wearing of masks may indeed reduce the amount of droplets in the environment from the person that is infected with COVID-19 and that is the reason why we are beginning to define the strategy of face masks for the general community”, he said. Abayomi disclosed that Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has already given instructions that tailors and seamstresses should be commissioned to commence mass production of locally made face masks from standard designs recommended to them.
“Tailors and seamstresses are empowered to produce and provide standard homemade face mask that the public can gain access to and wear without pulling on the limited stocks of professional face masks that health professional require such that in a couple of weeks, we will be able to mass-produce locally made face masks not medical masks,” the Commissioner affirmed.
Urging residents to report symptoms of COVID-19 infection to the dedicated toll-free helplines – 08000CORONA, Abayomi reiterated that early presentation of COVID-19 symptoms will help patients receive the best medical care to survive the infection as it will give room for timely and adequate intervention. “It is important members of the public are aware that the sooner we get to know about you and the sooner we can admit you. If you have mild to moderate symptoms under the supervision of our expert, we may be able to prevent you from moving from moderate to severe and prevent you from moving from severe to critical case, ” he assured. “We implore the communities not to feel the urge to stay at home when you have symptoms of COVID-19 because you are more likely to survive the COVID-19 infection under our supervision”, Abayomi said. The Commissioner disclosed that the two fatalities recorded in the government isolation centre resulted from late presentation to the State facilities as the deceased were already at a very late stage of their complications and eventually died en route to the hospital.