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COVID-19: Sanwo-Olu extends closure of worship centres, suspension of public events in Lagos

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, on Friday, dashed the hope of religious leaders in the state, when he announced the extension of closure of places of worship until further notice.

The governor, who made this known during his 16th coronavirus briefing as Incident Commander, also said all public events remained suspended.

He, however, disclosed that schools in the state would resume on August 3 for only graduating students.

Sanwo-Olu’s decision is coming on the heels of calls by religious leaders that places of worship should be considered essential services and should be allowed to re-open.

According to the governor, all social and events centres and social clubs will also remain closed, for now, even as he warned that only social clubs in possession of a valid Provisional Safety Clearance Letter from the Safety Commission would be permitted to open.

He said students in transitional classes, who have mandatory public exams ahead, are the ones permitted to resume as only day schools, as soon as possible for revision classes and examination.

The Governor stated that students in Junior Secondary three would resume one week after the assessment of Senior Secondary three students.

He said: “For the avoidance of doubt, students impacted by this directive are those in primary 6; J.S.3 and S.S.3. Commencement dates for this opening will be announced after such schools have met the required guidelines and protocols and provision of essentials for both students and teachers alike. Our Tertiary Institutions are to continue their online academic activities which are at various advanced stages.”

Meanwhile, the 454 new cases of COVID-19 recorded in Nigeria on Friday have taken the tally to 27,564, with 11,069 discharged and 628 deaths.

Speaking on COVID-19 testing, the governor said: “We are also constantly reviewing our Testing Strategy, to adapt to the evolving nature of the pandemic. Going forward, there will be two categories of people who qualify for testing for COVID-19 in Lagos State.

“The first category will be those who need to be tested; who fit the case definition for testing and therefore actually require testing. This category of people will continue to be tested free of charge by the State Government through our public laboratories, and everyone who meets the case definition for COVID-19 will be tested.

“What this means is that if you’re showing symptoms of the infection, or you have had contact with a confirmed case, or have been exposed to a location where confirmed cases have been reported, you are entitled to free testing by the Lagos State Government.

“The second category will be those who do not meet the case definition for COVID-19 but want to test for COVID-19 simply to fulfil their curiosity, or to meet requirements to travel or to return to work, or fulfil some other regulatory requirement.

“This category of people will have access to testing by newly-accredited private labs, but this will be at a cost that will be duly communicated by the Laboratories. The State Government will exercise strict oversight and control, to ensure that standards are maintained and consumers are not exploited.”

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Sanwo-Olu made it clear that testing by non-accredited facilities was prohibited, adding that the government will bring the full weight of the law to bear on any Laboratory found to be violating this directive.

“We are similarly scaling up the capacity of our Isolation Centers. On Sunday, June 28, 2020, Lagos State opened a new 150-bed Isolation Centre at the Mainland Infectious Diseases Hospital in Yaba, donated by the private sector-led Coalition against COVID-19 (CACOVID). This new Center brings to seven the number of publicly-managed COVID-19 Isolation Centres in Lagos State.

“Let me assure you that more centres are underway, through various collaborations with the Federal Government and the private sector. We want to ensure that we have more than enough capacity to manage and treat all of the new cases that will inevitably emerge from the increase in testing. We thank the coalition for their efforts in this regard.

“All bars, day and night clubs, cinemas, games arcades, beaches and beach fronts, gyms and spas continue to remain closed. Eateries and restaurants are to continue to open as normal for takeout only. In-dining is still prohibited and a few defaulters in this regard will be shut down and prosecuted.”

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