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Many security agents working in Lagos might have contracted the novel Coronavirus disease, COVID-19, The Nation learnt Wednesday.
It is alleged that most of the agents who have been on the front line in enforcing presidential COVID-19 prevention orders such as lockdown and social distancing had fallen sick and resorted to taking malaria drugs and other herbal mixtures.
Some of the operatives, The Nation gathered, were among those quarantined at isolation and treatment centres in the state.
While some of the agents were said to be medical personnel who got infected while attending to sick patients, colleagues with no COVID-19 symptoms; others, were feared to have been victims of community spread.
Although heads of security agencies in the state dismissed the claim, The Nation gathered that rapid testing was currently ongoing in the Nigerian Army (NA), Nigerian Navy (NN), Nigerian Air Force (NAF), Police and other sister service.
It was learnt that the NN has tested over 1,300 personnel of the Western Naval Command (WNC) with one Lieutenant Commander dead and eight confirmed positive and quarantined.
It was learnt that four other persons that had contact with the deceased officer including his driver have been tested and their results awaited.
Also, the NN has mandated its personnel on joint operations to comply with all regulations on COVID-19 prevention. It was learnt that a taskforce had been put in place to ensure unscheduled visits to spots and sanction those not maintaining social distancing nor wearing face masks.
“Nose mask is compulsory. The command also produced pocket sanitisers that they gave those of us in the field with strict warning to ensure we use it especially those who cannot avoid touching their faces.
“We were also given dedicated numbers to call medical workers for assistance if the need arise,” said a source.
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Contacted for reaction, the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) WNC Rear Admiral Oladele Daji said it was wrong to say many NN personnel in the state have COVID-19 since only eight out of 1,300 tested were confirmed positive.
“From the numbers we have tested so far, only eight confirmed cases have been recorded and so, you can see that eight out of 1,300 doesn’t translate to many.
“We have been taking precautions. We have been calling Lagos COVID-19 response to make sure that we do test because of the nature of our work. We have been sending samples for test and I can tell you that so far, we have tested 1,300 personnel not counting their family members and only eight are positive.
“Thankfully, most of the cases are serving in the medical centres so it is possible that it was from there they got it. Because of this, the Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas procured 1,800 PPEs and we distributed it to all our medical personnel in Lagos.
“You know they have to touch and see patients and most of these patients are civilian patients that come to our hospitals because of the modern equipments we have in our hospital.
“The CNS directed that every medical personnel, before they see any patient, must have their personal protective equipment. We distributed to all medical facilities in Lagos so we believe that with that, they would be confident to do their work and they will be protected at the same time.
“The Lieutenant Commander that died had underlying medical issues and it took two weeks and two days for his result just to come out.
“It’s very unfortunate. Even while we were waiting for the result, we kept asking what we should do and were told that we should just be checking his temperature, he should isolate and should be given Vitamin C.
“So, he was on that treatment but unfortunately, had complications on Saturday night and before we could rush him to the hospital, he gave up unfortunately.
“All those that had contact with him had been traced. He lives alone. He’s not married. Four people had contacts with him. They are someone who visited when the person heard that he’s in isolation; his driver, orderly and steward.
“Their samples have all been taken and they have been isolated, we are expecting that their results will come out but there’s no cause for alarm at all.”
Daji said the command was being proactive and not under pressure, adding that it has built isolation and treatment facilities at the Naval Dockyard, Victoria Island, following predictions that cases in Lagos might rise to 120,000 by July.
“So, we are thinking ahead that the available facilities in Lagos State may be overwhelmed if that happens. Though we are praying it doesn’t come true, we have set up isolation and treatment centres.
“We already had isolation centres that accommodate two in a room and there are 78 rooms which we have been using to quarantine our personnel that were returning from abroad before the airports were closed. So, this one is treatment centre may be inaugurated next week,” he said.
Also, General Officer Commanding (GOC) 81 Division, General Olu Irefin said the division only recorded a confirmed case which was a female soldier who was receiving treatment.
He said precautions were immediately taken to prevent spread because the personnel of the division were part of the larger society.
“It is not true that many of my personnel have COVID-19. But we know we are part of the larger society. We only have one case and it is a female soldier on course.
“She is receiving treatment. We have our COVID-19 response team formed by the Armed Forces of Nigeria and our isolation centre in Yaba. We have all the testing equipments and kits. We have been carrying out testing of our personnel once there is suspicion,” he said.
Lagos Police Commissioner Hakeem Odumosu said only two of his men were confirmed to have COVID-19 and they have been treated and discharged.
“You should know that there are many police formations in Lagos. When they say police in Lagos, it does not necessarily mean Lagos State Command. We have CP Railway, Command, Maritime, CP Airport, CP SFU, CP Anti-Fraud, among others and they have personnel too.
“But if you are referring to my command, I can tell you that only two persons had the virus and they have been treated and discharged.”