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COVID-19: Sanwo-Olu speaks, shuts down tertiary institutions, call for calm

Ayodele Olalere

Lagos State governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Friday, urged Lagosians to be calm in the face of the spread of the Coronavirus in the state.

He also directed shutting down of all tertiary institutions in the state.

The governor also extended ban earlier placed on religious gatherings above 50 to now include all social gatherings.

In his speech while giving update on efforts by the state government to contain the spread of the disease, Sanwo- Olu, who is the Incident Commander said Lagosians should be calm as the state government is trying its best to ensure the virus does not spread beyond the level it is.

My dear people of Lagos, as you all know, these are trying times for national and municipal leaders around the world. Since December last year, the Coronavirus disease has impacted every part of the world.

The impact has been enormous, on households, healthcare systems, global supply chains, and the global economy.

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On February 27, 2020, Nigeria recorded its first case of the Covid-19 disease, an Italian who landed in Lagos from Istanbul. In the time since then, the number of confirmed cases in Nigeria has risen to 12, so far.

Not surprisingly, our dear Lagos State has been the epicenter of this outbreak. We are the most populous State in Nigeria, and also home to the country’s busiest airport.

But we are also extremely prepared and capable of containing the threat that the Coronavirus represents. Our bio-secure isolation facility at the Mainland Infectious Diseases Hospital, Yaba is equipped and able to contain the disease.

As the Chief Incident Commander of Lagos State, it is my duty to update you regularly on this disease, and on the steps we are taking, in Lagos State, to fight it, working in close collaboration with the Federal Government and other partners, including the private sector.”


“On the medical front, we now have 11 confirmed cases in Lagos with eight under isolation and in admission in our biosecurity facility in Yaba. The index case has tested negative, and will be discharged soon. We are seeing new cases crop up with most of the cases being those who have recently travelled overseas or have contact with recent travelers. Each time we have been able to isolate them, do contact tracing, and quarantine the close contacts. So we are managing our numbers and trying to ensure that this does not become an uncontrollable outbreak.
The WHO named one key reason for the rapid spread: “alarming levels of inaction.” Here in Lagos, we have all taken Covid-19 with the utmost seriousness. For example, in Lagos State we inaugurated an incident command center four weeks, before the first index case was recorded. In fact, the WHO praised our efforts and held Lagos up as an example to emulate.
These are the steps we are taking in Lagos State, to ensure that we prevent the spread of the disease:

Following consultations with religious leaders, we have directed the immediate suspension of all gatherings of more than 50 persons.
We have also, following due consultations, announced the closure of all Public and Private schools in Lagos State with effect from next Monday, March 23, 2020; and I hereby direct that all Lagos State tertiary institutions shut down immediately.

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You will all agree with me that these times call for us all to act responsibly and abstain from all large outings or gatherings of any kind, be they academic, family, professional, political, religious or social.

In South Korea, and Singapore, the disease spread largely through organized religious gatherings. The issue is of course not religion, but that the virus can spread through any large assemblage of people or gathering.

To protect and save lives, law enforcement agencies, especially the Police, have been directed to enforce compliance with the directive against any assemblage of a large number of people at any location. Lagosians should, in the interest of all of us, ensure regular observance of all preventive measures being widely circulated by the Federal and State Ministries of Health.

These measures include the following: Residents should observe high standards of personal hygiene, and practice social distancing.

If you feel sick, consult a doctor and stay indoors.

If you have just returned from any of the countries with COVID-19 cases, you should isolate yourself for at least 14days.
Everyone should be vigilant and report suspected cases of the disease to the nearest medical facility. The telephone number provided by the Ministry of Health, 08000CORONA, is available round-the-clock.”


Let me now speak briefly about what government is doing, at Federal and State levels, to soften the inevitable economic impact of this disease.

The Central Bank of Nigeria has announced a stimulus package that will open up new credit lines to the businesses and sectors most affected by the Coronavirus. We expect that Lagos State, as the economic hub of Nigeria, will benefit significantly from these interventions.

Under the auspices of the National Economic Council, at which I represent Lagos State, we have established a Special Committee that is working with the Federal Government to design a coordinated national economic response that fully addresses the social and economic implications of the Coronavirus disease.


I would like to once again enjoin all Lagosians to cooperate with us as we fight this pandemic. There is no need to panic.

I equally urge all Lagosians to please desist from creating or sharing fake news and misinformation regarding this disease. At times like this there will be a lot of false, misleading and unverified information circulating, especially on our phones. These pieces of information are often designed to cause panic, and end up doing more harm than good, to the society at large.

We all have important roles to play by not disseminating or amplifying these messages. We must pay attention only to genuine information as disseminated by the relevant Federal and State Government authorities.

Let me again reiterate that the Lagos State Government is fully ready and capable of containing this threat.

On our part, we will continue to make available to you timely and accurate updates and advise.

Together we will defeat this virus.
May God be with us all.”