•17 Kaduna varsity students infected, NUT demands schools’ closure
Olaleye Aluko, Jesusegun Alagbe, Dayo Ojerinde and Godwin Isenyo
The Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof Akin Abayomi, on Friday, said 181 pupils and staff members of a private school located in a suburb of Lekki have tested positive for COVID-19 during surveillance and case investigation in the school.
Abayomi, in a statement from the ministry’s Director, Public Affairs, Tunbosun Ogunbanwo, noted that the total population of the school is 441, while explaining that a 14-year-old SS1 female pupil fell ill on October 3 and was sent home after receiving first aid at the school.
Also, the Kaduna State University branch of the Academic Staff Union of Universities has opposed the university’s management plan resumption of the institution after several months of lockdown, saying 17 students were infected.
This is just as the Nigerian Union of Teachers said on Friday that the Lagos and Kaduna state governments must take proactive steps’, including the closure of identified schools to ensure that the COVID-19 outbreak is curtailed.
The Lagos commissioner said the pupil subsequently tested positive for COVID-19 on October 6 in one of the accredited private labs in Lagos.
Abayomi said the parents had been contacted and counselled via a family Zoom call on October 13 to further allay their fears as communication between school authorities and parents continued.
“There is a total lockdown and movement restriction in the school with the Epidemiology and Surveillance Pillar of the emergency operations centre and Ibeju-Lekki LGA State Disease Surveillance and Notification Officer reporting at the school daily to conduct further investigation, while positive pupils and staff have been isolated on the premises and given the COVID-19 home-care treatment packs and are being monitored in isolation within the school premises.
“Pupils are to be isolated in the school premises and, if unwell, they will be admitted in one of the accredited isolation centres in Lagos. Pupils are discouraged from going home to avoid infecting members of their families.
“The Ministry of Health is working closely with the Ministry of Education to jointly manage this minor and significant outbreak in this boarding school. I am pleased to announce that all the infected pupils are predominantly asymptomatic, while some have very mild symptoms; no pupil has required hospitalisation.
“Members of the Emergency Operation Centre and our counterparts in the Ministry of Education have been deployed to the school to provide strategic interventions and support to the school. This includes psychosocial support, infection prevention control, medical monitoring and risk communication experts to further enlighten and educate affected people.”
Reacting to the COVID-19 cases being reported in Lagos and Kaduna schools, the President, National Association of Resident Doctors, Dr Okhuaihesuyi Uyilawa, said it was unfortunate that the country was not prepared for the second wave of COVID-19.
He said, “The problem is that we are not prepared for the second wave of COVID-19. Most institutions are not following the COVID-19 regulation, and we tend to expose our children to such an environment. We are reopening schools when we don’t have the basic facilities to curb COVID-19.
“If the second wave phenomenon of COVID-19 hits us, it is going to hit us badly.”
Also, the Chairman, Lagos NMA Committee on COVID-19 response, Dr Japhet Olugbodi, said schools should be closed again if need be.
“If they do random tests in all the schools that have opened, I’m sure they will find more positive cases. In South Korea, England and some other countries, they opened schools and had a surge in confirmed cases.
“We are lucky in Nigeria, but we should not take that for granted. If there is the need to close the schools again, we should do that, we need to stop large gatherings again, we should do that. Any form of precaution that we need to take should be taken,” Olugbodi said.
In a related development, the Director-General, Office of Education Quality Assurance of the Lagos State Ministry of Education, Mrs Abiola Seriki-Ayeni, has warned schools asking parents to sign “waivers of liability relating to COVID-19” before admitting children for physical learning to desist from doing so.
In a statement on Friday, Seriki-Ayeni urged parents to read all waivers of liability relating to COVID-19 in respect of their children and use their discretion on signing them.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Kaduna State University ASUU branch, Tukur Abdulkadir, while addressing journalists in Kaduna, stated that lecturers in the state were against resumption of academic activities because of the fear that students might contract the coronavirus.
Abdulkadir said, “Almost all the guidelines as stipulated by PTF/NCDC are not in existence in Kaduna State University at the moment. Students congregate very closely without face masks, and hostels are overcrowded. It is on record that some weeks ago, 17 out of about 50 medical students who were recalled for examination tested positive for COVID-19.”
The NUT Secretary General, Dr Mike Ene, stated in an interview that the governments must take responsibility.
The NUT chief said, “This incidence is unfortunate. This was exactly part of what we were saying as our fears that if this virus was not properly handled, there would be crisis. We were told that in less than one hour, one infected person can infect a thousand. The governments must take responsibility by shutting those schools, giving the necessary medical attention to the affected pupils and workers, and strengthen precautionary measures in other schools.”
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