The Lagos State Government has warned that private hospitals across the state are not yet allowed to treat COVID-19 patients.
The State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, who disclosed this on Monday, said although cases of the novel coronavirus diseases were rising in the state, the rate of increase was still within the pace health workers can control even as he disclosed that no fewer than 2,293 persons are being traced in Lagos.
Abayomi who gave the warning while responding to questions on the death of a COVID-19 patient weekend in a private hospital in the state explained that the death that was not unusual as lots of patients with pneumonia were currently being managed, and COVID-19 is just one cause of pneumonia.
“There are several other possible causes of pneumonia. So, when a patient is admitted into a private hospital with respiratory tract infections, most of the time, it is not COVID-19; we have to test and in the process of testing, if it is COVID-19, we will then try and move the patient to the recognised and accredited isolation facility.
“We are not encouraging the private sector to manage COVID-19 at this point in time for a number of reasons. It is still an issue of the state and national security that cases of COVID-19 are managed in recognised facilities.
“However, patients with pneumonia can be treated in a private hospital, but as soon as we know they are positive, we will endeavour to move them as fast as possible to an isolation facility. That is not always so easy, especially if the case is developing complications and they are requiring ventilation.”
The Commissioner for Health added that Lagos State has concluded plans to start COVID-19 clinical trial in partnership with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, and other institutions.
“There are a lot of researches going on around the world, so it is possible that at some time in the near future, we will have what we may describe as a definitive cure for COVID-19. Indeed we are setting up our own clinical trials in Lagos in collaboration with other institutions and the NCDC and hopefully, by this time next week, we should have started some clinical trials on our patients and on our staff in Lagos State.
“We have three testing sites in Lagos and we are looking to activate some other sites. The current three are; Lagos State Biobank at Yaba Mainland Hospital, the Department of Virology in Lagos University Teaching Hospital and the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research.”
Speaking on the rise in cases in the state, Abayomi disclosed that currently, the response team is seeing more of local transmission of COVID-19 cases since the borders have been closed.
He said 352 contacts have completed their 14-day isolation period and exited the list of people under isolation.
“We have 2,645 passengers of interest that we are tracing, 352 of them have completed their 14-day isolation and we are still following up 2,293. In the next few days, most of them will exit their 14-day isolation.
“These are passengers that have flown into Lagos on a flight where we have identified a confirmed COVID-19 patient. The risk is that being on that flight with a confirmed case, they have been exposed and there is a possibility that they will manifest with COVID-19.”
The Commissioner further noted that many people calling the dedicated call lines for COVID-19 were not serious callers. “Eighty per cent of the calls we receive on our hotline (08000CORONA) are hoax calls; people calling in to test the numbers, to make pranks with aggressive language. “These calls are blocking our call centre lines and unfortunately making it difficult for the people that really need help to get through.”
Abayomi hinted that the number of cases without a travel history has increased to 80 per cent and that demonstrates that there is more local transmission going on.