Nigeria: Lagos LG Polls - Poor Compliance With Covid-19 Protocols Heightens Fear of Infection Spread

At a polling station in Apapa LGA, the thermometer had no battery in it, so wasn't used.

There was poor compliance with COVID-19 protocols in the local government and councillorship election that was held across Lagos State on Saturday, a PREMIUM TIMES' survey has shown.

Findings by this newspaper showed that although the election was marred by a low turnout of voters, which reduced the rate of physical interaction among voters, there was no strict compliance with COVID-19 precautions during the exercise.

At several polling units visited by PREMIUM TIMES across the three senatorial districts in the state, electoral officials, security officers, party agents and voters were seen mingling with one another unhindered.

This newspaper also found that most of the voters and electoral officials wore no face masks and other protective apparels during the exercise.

Analysts have expressed concerns over the development, with fears that it may have a negative effect on the efforts of the Lagos State government to control the spread of the coronavirus.

COVID-19 in Lagos

In the first week of July, PREMIUM TIMES reported that Lagos State topped the coronavirus infection chart in Nigeria by recording 36 out of the 40 announced by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC.

Lagos' share of the disease burden amounted to 90 per cent of the figure released at the time.

Earlier in June, 32 out of the 44 new cases recorded in Nigeria were identified in Lagos, raising the total number of infections in the country at the time to 167,375.

There are indications that the imminent third wave of the coronavirus pandemic may have already hit the country as Nigeria on Friday recorded 317 fresh cases of the dreaded infection. The nation also reported one death from the pandemic, raising the nation's death toll since the outbreak to 2,131.

The new development may not be unconnected to the discovery of the Delta variant of the virus which has been described by the World Health Organisation as the "most transmissible."

Poor Compliance

At polling stations in Lagos Central, this newspaper observed that equipment such as infrared thermometers and hand sanitisers were provided and most of the officials used their face masks. However, about 80 per cent of voters and party agents did not use face masks nor comply with the social distancing directive.

At a polling station in Apapa LGA, the thermometer had no battery in it, so was not used.

In most parts of Lagos East Senatorial District, infrared thermometers and hand sanitisers were provided but not used at many polling units. Many voters also did not wear face masks.

The same was the situation in Lagos West.

At a polling station in Bolade, Oshodi, PREMIUM TIMES observed how voters trooped out en masse and declined to observe social distancing. There was no directive to the voters on COVID-19 protocols from electoral and security agencies.

The poor adherence to COVID-19 protocols during the election on Saturday raises fresh concerns about the state's COVID-19 prevention measures.

In a statement on Saturday, Yiaga Africa said it observed the provision of hand sanitisers and handheld infrared thermometers across the polling units, but there was no enforcement on the usage.

"Polling officials and voters were not adhering to the COVID-19 non-pharmaceutical safety protocol and physical distancing," the organization said.

Since the pandemic broke out, Lagos has been Nigeria's worst-hit city, accounting for about a third of the total infections.

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