The Lagos State Government has urged the public to desist from stigmatising health facilities that might have been exposed to COVID19 cases in the state.

Dr Abiola Idowu, Executive Secretary, State Health Facility Monitoring and Accreditation Agency (HEFAMAA), made the plea in a statement on Thursday night.

Idowu was reacting to a list of some health facilities being circulated on the social media as purportedly exposed to COVID-19 cases in the state.

She said that such list did not emanate from the agency, nor the state Ministry of Health, through HEFAMAA, ever issued such list.

According to her, stigma can drive people to hide the illness to avoid discrimination, prevent people from seeking healthcare immediately and discourage them from adopting healthy behaviours.

Idowu explained that some health facilities might inadvertently admitted or treated patients with COVID-19 without knowing.

She said that if such happened, the facility would be temporarily closed for decontamination, while the staff would be trained on infection, prevention and control after which the facility would be safe to carry on its normal operations.

Idowu, however, appealed to the patients infected with COVID-19 to prevent severe health problems by reporting at the government designated facility for treatment.

She also urged all health facilities operating in Lagos to adhere strictly to the principle on Infection Prevention and Control (IPC), and maintain a high degree of suspicion for COVID-19.

The HEFAMAA executive secretary advised them to adhere strictly to the laid down protocols for COVID-19 suspicion.

She added that IPC would help to reduce human-to-human transmission and secondary infections among close contacts and health care workers.

Highlighting some of the critical components of the protocol, Idowu explained that each healthcare facility must have a plan and a team in place to address COVID-19 issues.

According to her, the protocol include triaging and assigning responsibility for notification or communication with the Lagos State COVID-19 response team through the 08000CORONA (0800 026 7662) toll free line.

She advised facilities against unauthorised admission and treatment of confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Idowu warned that any facility caught violating the laid down protocol of operations, especially with regard to COVID-19 case, the management would be sanctioned in line with the extent provision of the law.

The executive secretary said that only facilities approved by the state government for COVID-19 case management were expected to carry out the management of COVID-19 cases.

She urged individuals in the state to desist from issuing panicky statements to the public on operation of health facilities.

Idowu said that such messages was capable of causing confusion and making the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic more challenging.

“This is the handiwork of mischief makers and fake news merchants who are bent on causing panic in the community and eroding the successes recorded in the battle against COVID-19.

“I, therefore, urge residents to disregard the list in its entirety and rely solely on the Ministry of Health and HEFAMAA for information on the operation of health facilities and management of COVID-19 cases especially at this critical time,” she said.

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