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20 April 2020

COVID-19: No law against release of corpses —Lagos govt

THE Lagos State government, yesterday, said there was no existing law in the state that stops the release of the bodies of COVID-19 dead patients to their relatives. It also disclosed that no fewer than one million households have been reached in the search for active cases of COVID-19 in communities.

The Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Professor Akin Abayomi said this while giving updates on the containment efforts of the virus in the state during a pressing conference.
Abayomi, however, noted that the state government will soon issue a policy on the use of facemasks, adding that it has commenced mass production of local face mask.

The commissioner said: “There are no existing laws that empowered us to deny the families of deceased bodies. The protocol for managing death from COVID-19 is that the body is decontaminated, and then placed in special body bags; sometimes you can double it then place it in a casket. And the coffin is sealed. Then the family will be allowed to come and collect the body and take him for burial. “The only issue is that about the existing laws, the burial will have no more than 25 people including the grave-digger in attendance.

So there is no current law that allows us to deny relatives the body of the person that died of COVID-19. It is just to be done in a procedure that doesn’t expose family members and relatives to danger.” On facemasks, Abayomi said: “There is some theoretical evidence that the wearing of masks may indeed reduce the number of droplets in the environment from the person that is infected with COVID-19 and that is the reason we are beginning to define the strategy of face masks for the general community. “Tailors and seamstresses are empowered to produce and provide standard home-made face mask that the public can gain access to and wear without pulling on the limited stocks of professional face masks that health professional requires such that in a couple of weeks, we will be able to mass-produce locally made face masks, not the medical mask.”

On the Active Case Search in communities, the commissioner noted the rise in the number of confirmed cases. He said: “Be reminded that there are some conditions that have similar symptoms. Out of 300 samples taken, we have only found three patients who have breathing difficulties and symptoms related to COVID19.

More than 90 percent of these patients will have other COVID-19 related symptoms. The latest active case search in communities has reduced the number of community infections in the state.

Our strategy is to achieve a reduced number of cases. “We are making efforts to ensure that increase in the number of cases is reduced unlike what we see in the UK and other countries in Europe. With what we are seeing now it is showing that the graph is being flattened and it has shown that the multiplicity of the strategies is indeed working.” On private hospitals, Abayomi said only one private hospital has been accredited to treat COVID-19 patients in the state.

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