One hundred and eighty-one students and staff of a school in Lekki, Lagos have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, State Commissioner for Health Akin Abayomi said on Friday. The outbreak, which occurred in a boarding school in Lekki with 441 staff and students, was declared as “a minor but significant” by the Lagos authorities. Majority of the now-quarantined staff and students have not developed any symptom.
Abayomi disclosed on Twitter that the cases became known following the sickness of a 14-year old girl on 3rd October. On 6th October, she tested positive for COVID-19, compelling the state health authorities to conduct an inquiry.
“Positive students and staff have been isolated on the premises … and are being monitored in isolation within the school premises,” Abayomi said.
He noted steps had been taken to flatten the curve of the pandemic spread, adding that authorities were discouraging pupils from going home in order to avert the chances of infecting relatives.
According to the commissioner, all parents have been informed and counselled through a family Zoom call on 13th October to allay their fears.
“There are a total lockdown and movement restriction in the school with the Epidemiology and Surveillance Pillar of the EOC and Ibeju-Lekki LGA State Disease Surveillance and Notification Officer (DSNO) reporting at the school daily to conduct a further investigation while positive students 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,” Abayomi said.
He went further to say the school authorities backed by the Ministry of Health in the state as well as the Ministry of Education are observing the coronavirus guidelines as mandated by government.
“Students are to be isolated in the School premises and if unwell will be admitted in one of the accredited isolation centres in Lagos. Students are discouraged from going home to avoid infecting members of their families,” he said.
Abayomi also stressed the significance of practising personal and environmental hydiene, adding that using nose mask in public, proper hand washing and other hygiene protocols as well as physical distancing will help keep infection spread at bay.
“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.
“COVID-19 is still very much with us and we must strive to prioritize the safety of all, including students and teachers, by adhering strictly to prevention protocols and guidelines issued by the government to prevent its spread.”
Nigeria has confirmed 60,982 cases of COVID-19 and 1,162 fatalities linked to the disease.
The Nigerian government announced early this month federal government schools could reopen from 12th October while state-run schools and private schools could open on their own timetables after increasing fall in the rate of infections in the country.
As the news of the outbreak in the Lekki school spreads, some parents are having second thoughts about sending their wards back to school. A parent in Surulere, Lagos who has two of the “preexisting conditions” that predispose infected people to developing serious Covid-19 illnesses said she is likely to keep her 9-year-old son at home from Monday 19 October. Another Lagos parent said his 12-year-old has the stature of an adult and suffers from asthma, one of the preexisting conditions; he is wary of exposing him to the possibility of infection. Many parents who see the reopening of schools as a welcome relief from supervising children attending classes via remote learning discount the risk of their children becoming infected in school.