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Exactly a week after schools in Ogun state resumed for the new academic session after a few months break due to the lockdown, teachers and students are now turning the schools to breeding havens for COVID-19 .They have both shunned non-pharmaceutical protocols of the deadly virus. Students and teachers are now engaging in a free-for-all action against the protocols of Coronavirus, Bosun Olatunji reports;
Despite that the government had pledged to ensure that all the necessary facilities that will cage the deadly virus will be provided , findings have shown that , the government has exacerbated the COVID-19 case by cancelling the staggered classes policy which was adopted to curb crowded classes in the schools.
This reporter who went round the three Senatorial districts in the state to observe the level of compliance of the protocols in some schools , especially , public schools, observed that the gate is wide open for the spread of the virus as both the teachers and the students go about their businesses without wearing face masks and keeping the social distancing .
Regrettably, through its actions , the government has been seen to have encouraged the students and the teachers in flouting the rule by failing to provide the facilities needed – water and water basin as well as hand wash sanitiser at the schools .
The students and the teachers gain entry without observing the non-pharmaceutical protocols ,contrary to the pledge by the government that it would ensure all the schools have the needed facilities to ward off the virus .
Some schools in Abeokuta , the state capital such as African Church Grammar School,Ita-Eko ; Gateway Secondary schools, Ita-Iyalode ; Abeokuta Grammar School, Idi-Aba ; Lisabi High School ,Idi-Aba ; Aseto High School ,Asero ; Nawair-rudeen Grammar School,Obantoko ; Reverend Kuti memorial Grammar School, Isabo and Premier High School ,Lafenwa were seen flouting the covid-19 protocols .
In Ijebu-Ode ,Sagamu , and their environs many studenrs were seen being allowed into the schools without wearing face masks .and washing their hands . The same situation was recorded in schools in Sango/Ota ; Ewekoro ; Ayetoro ,Owode ; Ipokia ; Imeko-Afon ; Imala among others .
However , as many of the students were seen not complying with the protocols of covid-19, a few others among the teachers and students were seen trying to comply by hanging their face masks on their jaws.
Even, at the time of resuming , all the public schools visited were on a form of disguised compliance. Schools which attempted complying were only strict for about an hour.
The little measures put in place earlier in the day by these schools were probably to convince patents and supervisors that there are incentives in place.
At St. Andrew’s Nur & primary school Ibara and Owu African Church central school, Ita-Oyalode, it was business as usual as students were seen picking dirts around with no caution on social distancing and use of facemasks. The students were seen returning to their classrooms without washing their hands. While buckets of water and soap for handwashing were placed at strategic points within the two schools, there were neither students using them nor a form of orientation in that regard.
When this reporter passed by the staff room, teachers were seen discussing without facemasks undeterred by the dusts from cleaning of the classroom.
The atmosphere at the secondary schools visited was with a bit of caution. Teachers were well positioned at the school entrance as warning signals to students to do the needful.
At African Church Grammar school, teachers have been at the gate as early as 7am sending students without facemask away from the school. This only lasted for an hour as our reporter who visited the school again later discovered that there was unhindered entry without facemasks.
Students at the Gateway secondary school Ita-Iyalode were drawn aback by the presence of teachers at the school gate little did they know that the teachers were not monitoring. One of the students that had entered the school came out to inform her friend that there his no restriction. This prompted others who had been standing outside for minutes to go into the school. Some of the students in the school compound were however seen with their facemasks on.
Private schools visited were however compliant with the COVID-19 protocols. At Akin-Gbogboade Nursery and Primary school, a staff was at the school gate with sanitizers and also ensuring those who come into the school have their facemasks on.
Some parents who were denied entry because their wards have no facemask on were told to go get facemasks with the proprietress promising to pay for the facemask.
At living spring Nursery and primary school a staff is positioned at the school gate checking temperature, giving sanitizer as well as ensure use of facemask
Upon interrogation with few of the students, it’s was gathered that they were aware of the trends of COVID-19 even its spike in the country but weren’t compliant protocols because their parents weren’t.
…More .scary situation as Ogun being a neighbour to the Epicentre
Ogun state, apart from its proximity to Lagos State, the Epicentre of the virus, also shares boundaries with Ibadan where it is believed that Coronavirus cannot survive. Also, the state shares international border with Benin Republic, these make the people in the state prone to become the carriers of the deadly virus which will eventually shoot up the cases in the state .
….More deaths being recorded in Ogun
Despite the surge in the cases of COVID-19 in the state with its attendant deaths, many residents were seen daring the deadly virus by their refusal to wear face masks ,not washing their hands and refused to keep social distancing with their partners .
The recent statistics obtained from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control revealed that more deaths are being recorded in many states including Ogun state .
As of the time of filing this report , fresh three deaths were recorded in Ogun state .
Almost all the 20 local governments were doomed for the virus following the increase in the cases of the deadly virus.
According to the statistics released by the state Ministry of Health , cumulative cases were 3,263.
No fewer than 42 persons have died of Covid-19 in the state while fresh 13 patients were kept into the Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital isolation centre .
Not less than 532 patients are undergoing home treatment with 12 new cases.
Further findings have shown that the government has practically shut down its multi-million naira isolation centres in Ikenne .
It was also discovered that more than 200 Primary Health Centres in the state have been dilapidated which had forced the people to seek healthcare at the general hospitals .
Some medical workers who spoke with this reporter lamented that the breakdown of the PHCs made the general hospitals stretched up.
It was also discovered that the Federal Medical Centre ,Idi-Aba, Abeokuta has been over stretched by the cases of the virus .
…Another fear in the air as only 50,000 tested for covid-19 in Ogun
The Ogun state government revealed that it had only tested just 50,000 people for COVID-19 out of over four million population .
As of the time of this report , the total figure of those that have been tested for COVID-19 was just 50,000 out of over four million people in the state going by the unofficial figure branded by the government .
Despite that it churns out daily cases of the virus in the state , the state government has failed to provide the necessary health care facilities for it’s people
The Commissioner for Health in Ogun State, Dr. Tomi Coker had disclosed that, the ravaging covid-19 pandemic could not be totally eradicated until 70 per cent of the citizens get immune to the vaccine.
The Health Commissioner noted that, the state government has contained the spread of the virus, calling on the media to scale up the risk communication in getting the message of the second wave to the grassroots.
She added that, the transmission rate of the second wave of the disease is between 60-70%, saying the disease is not for the rich alone calling for collaborative efforts of the media.
“I will like to appreciate you journalists for the role they played in community to the grassroots during the pandemic because no matter how we shout loud here it would never get to the grassroots unless you carry out that message well and you did that very well.
“The disease is contained as much as we can in Ogun, we still need to scale up our risk communication, that getting the message particularly the second wave down to the grassroots, it’s spreading even more. The transmission rate is between 60-70%.
“So, we have to get that out. It is not the disease of the rich. For us to contain it and eradicate it in Nigeria, we all have to work hand in hand as a collaboration between us and the Media.
“But challenge before us in the next few months is to actually get the message of the safety of the vaccine out to the grassroots.
“We can’t eradicate covid-19 until 70% of the citizens is immune to it. So we have to start that leg work now even before we the vaccine arrives here.”
Also commenting on the situation in the state , the Chief Medical Director ,Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital ,Sagamu, Dr. Peter Adefuye appealed to the governor, Dapo Abiodun not to back down in the fight against COVID-19.
Adefuye who was reported to have spent some weeks in the isolation centre , said “My appeal to His Excellency is not to hands off the operation of the centre, especially for as long as this pandemic continues to ravage the world; the least a Government can do to its citizens at a time like this is giving succour and saving lives.”
He however , subtly hinted on the insufficience of test laboratory and others .
He said “the centre will need more in terms of Laboratory and other ancillary supports.”
….Ogun Suspends staggered classes despite increase cases of covid-19
Despite the increase in the COVID-19 cases in the state , the government has sanctioned the normal class which allowed crowd classes .
The State Government had justified suspending the staggering classes for the normal classes of 8 to 2:pm despite the spike in the cases of COVID-19 in the country .
The State Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Prof. Abayomi Arigbabu had reported to have announced the commencement of normal classes for the second term 2020/2021 academic session against the staggering classes that was put in place during the first term, to ensure students cover syllabus for the session.
Arigbabu, was reported to have said this in Abeokuta, while monitoring the level of compliance with COVID-19 protocols in schools.
Arigbabu had said ‘‘schools have resumed to their normal hours, which is from 8am to 2pm, staggering classes will not hold anymore, because syllabus have to be covered, as well as to safeguard lives of students who used to loiter around before their scheduled classes”.
When contacted to explain the rationale behind the policy despite the spike in the cases of corronavirus in the country , the Special Adviser to the governor on Public Communications , Remmy Hazzan said it was due to logistic reasons.
When asked to talk on how the government would prevent crowded classes in public schools in the state ,
Hazzan said the government had put in place some measures to ensure non-pharmaceutical protocols are sustained .
He said the government plans to assess the new policy for two to three weeks and review it before taking another decision .
He said “In most of the schools especially now that they are beginning to release letters for those teachers who were earlier employed but their appointments were put on hold .
“There would be enough hands to handle them and most of the schools are witnessing massive infrastructural development which is adding more classrooms to the existing ones .
“And of course you know that logistic of stagmented schooling will be bring a lot more recurrent expenditures in terms of the teachers Welfare and wellbeing ,all those were put into being .
” Most of those classrooms have been completed and are fit for use . If you have a school of 10 classrooms before, now having 15 /16 what it then means is that we can achieve a very optimal level of social distancing , those are the immediate bases for ensuringt that we are going ahead with the standard 8 to 2pm.
“However , we are going to look at what this brings in terms of evaluation within the first two three weeks bearing any unforeseen circumstances we may just leave that way.”
…Experts warn against relaxation of protocols
The Chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association, Ogun state ,Dr. Oladapo Ogunlaja has warned against the refusal of the people and the government to take the deadly virus seriously .
Ogunlaja said the government should be talking about a total lockdown over the ravaging covid-19 to avoid further spread.
He said “how many people have you seen along the street using the face masks , how many people do you see washing their hands regularly , how many people do you see using hand sanitiser ?
“I know our governments are devoid of any other thing to do ,but, all of us are into it .
“Even the schools they want to open , I am so scared . Just about two or three days ago, we heard about LASUCOM ,in their hostel three students were tested positive ,they had to close down the medical school and you are talking about a camp that has close to a thousand of young people.
” Why the government is doing this ? Even by now , what we should be talking about is a total lockdown .
” If they ask anybody to go for any lockdown now , there would be chaos, but, I just hope all will be well with us in this country .”
Why we don’t use face masks ,say pupils
A random discussion with some students across the state on why they decided not to comply with the protocols revealed that their attitude was anchored on the body language of their teachers and their parents .
Funmilayo Adebanjo , a JSS 3 students said she was discouraged by her school mates who do not bother to wear the face masks and that she was not scolded by her teachers for the action .
Mary Ijaola , a JSS 2 student said her parents do not press it on her and that what she has been hearing was that covid-19 is a scam .
“When I go to market what indeed , when I go to church what I hear , when I meet my friends what they told me and what my parents discussed show that the virus was just being exaggerated .
Also, a Baptism Boys High School student , Bolu Kajoku , said , his teachers are a bit serious about the compliance of the protocols ,but, once they go out of the school premises , they remove the face masks .
He said , “even in schools , what I observed was that those of the teachers that used it , were not completely convinced , they only used it to avoid being sanctioned by the authorities .
“I have some if my teachers who remove the face masks whenever there is no one to scold them . Like wise I have seen many of students that either wrongly use it or removed it outrightly except when they observe that they will be caught by the authorities ”
Findings however showed that , the government has been lackadiaiscal with the enforcement .
Apart from the fact that many schools do not have running water , the government has lowered the guard in terms of monitoring the levels of compliance of the protocols in the schools .
It was further observed that with the rate of non-compliance of the students and teachers in public schools , the cases of covid-19 might soon skyrocket .