The debate over the return of another lockdown in Lagos has continued to garner outrage from citizens despite the alarming spike in cases of COVID-19 in the state these past weeks.
The outrage was fueled by a poll conducted by the Lagos State Government on Twitter, the online poll was as a result of the perceived non-compliance of residents of the state to the various guidelines laid down for the phased ease of the lockdown by the Lagos state government.
As at May 4th when President Muhammadu Buhari announced the phased relax of the lockdown with a curfew placed between 8 pm and 7 am, the total number of COVID-19 cases nationwide stood at 2,558 cases, by Wednesday 13th of May the number has risen to 4,787, showing a percentage increase of 87.1 percent in less than 2 weeks. Similarly, the number of deaths rose from 87 to 158 within nine days, which alluded to another 81.6 percent increase.
In the same vein, the number of active cases increased by 77.2 percent, from 2,071 to 3,670 in nine days. The number of recovered cases also rose from 400 to 959, an increase of 139.75 percent. Lagos, Kano, and FCT continue to record the highest number of cases in the country despite various forms of lockdown imposed in those states.
Locally, the number of cases in Lagos as at 4th of May stood at 1,109 cases but rose to 1,990 cases as of 9 pm on Wednesday 13th of May, an increase of 79.4 percent.
The Lagos State Ministry of Health stated that the non-compliance to the use of face masks and the guidelines of social distancing has led to the increase in community transmission of COVID-19 thereby necessitating the need for a poll to determine the next cause of action by the government.
The online poll which generated a lot of buzz on Twitter yesterday, had about 66,779 votes as at 10.30 pm yesterday. 50 percent of the voters wanted a return of the lockdown, whilst 39 percent were against the return of the lockdown. The remaining 11 percent were undecided on either of the actions to be taken in these perilous times.
Many of the voters also took to the comment section to defend their choice of actions. Some were of the opinion that residents were subjected to untold hardship during the previous lockdown with little or no palliatives coming from the government. Some alluded that residents were alternating between protecting themselves from the Coronavirus or being killed by the “hunger virus”. Some also believed that the virus should be treated as common Flu and residents should be subjected to herd immunity, taking into cognizance the recovery rate of patients without severe underlying medical conditions.
A former Gubernatorial aspirant in Lagos stated under ADC, now a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Lagos, Mr. Babatunde Olalere Gbadamosi berated the government for even contemplating another lockdown despite the obvious failure of the previous one. He said: “Considering that government could do more testing, provide immune-boosting supplements, face masks and Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), procure treatment medication like Hydroxychloroquine, Zinc-sulphate and Azithromycin, Pax COVID and Prof. Iwu’s solution; is lockdown necessary when it will cause hunger?
Another commentator, Arewa Omidan said any lockdown without corresponding palliative would be a futile effort. “Despite the lockdown, cases are increasing. Some have lost their jobs. How do people like private school teachers to survive? Uber drivers and many others? “If you lock them in again, be ready for the outcome. If you really care about the people you are leading, remember there are those who have to go out every day to make a living. If you can’t take care of them, then there’s no need for another lockdown.
A top official of the Lagos State Government alluded that the online poll should be regarded as part of the efforts of the Sanwo-Olu administration to foster civic engagement in policymaking and gauge the mood of the people.
According to him, the outcome will not be the only determinant of the government’s decision on whether the lockdown should return or the status quo maintained. “Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu relies on the advice of health experts to take his decisions and not on the emotional outburst of the people. “Mr. governor wants the best for the people all the time,” he said. Governor Sanwo-Olu is expected to address Lagosians tomorrow.
Some of the respondents also claimed that the online poll was used as a decoy to feel the pulse of residents before the reintroduction of the lockdown as already planned. They also believed that the increase in recorded cases is as a result of the increase in testing capacity in the state.