Lagos Rejigs Testing And Surveillance Strategy As Fourth Wave Tapers.
· Government Slashes PCR Test Fee in Private Facilities
· Test Remains Free in Approved Public Health Laboratories
· Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) Deactivates Passports of PCR Test Defaulters
The Lagos State Government has announced that while the fourth wave of COVID has tapered out, it will continue to ensure heightened public surveillance for COVID and ensure access to free PCR testing at all its public health facilities. Testing at the designated public health facilities remains free of charge.
The Government also announced a reduction in the cost of COVID-19 PCR test at its accredited private laboratories from N50,400 to N45,250 per PCR test commencing on the 28th of January 2022.
Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, who announced the reduction today at his office in Alausa, Ikeja noted that the COVID-19 PCR test cost was reviewed by Lagos State COVID-19 Incident Command Structure and approved by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
Abayomi said the reduction in cost was to cut the expenses to be incurred by citizens who need the PCR tests for travel, work, or other purposes other than COVID symptoms or contact tracing.
He said: “In line with the directive of Mr. Governor, the Lagos State Biobank has reviewed the processes involved in conducting a COVID-19 PCR test at the accredited private laboratories consortium and based on this, made a recommendation to the Governor for a reduction.
“For those that need to travel and require a private PCR test, the Lagos State Government has recommended a reduction in the cost of COVID-19 PCR test at the accredited private laboratories consortium from N50,400 to N45,250 per PCR test commencing on the 28th of January 2022.
“You will recall that N50,400 initial PCR test fee charged at the private laboratories was a fixed amount approved by the Governor during the expansion of our testing to include the private laboratories consortium in the first wave. This strategy was to expand testing outlets available to the public but more importantly to ensure price control standardization and avoid exploitation of the public, as there were huge cost variations in PCR testing in the private sector ranging from N70,000 to as high as N300,000 per PCR test.
“Mr. Governor has approved the reduction in cost of the PCR test, bringing us to the new cost of N45,250 per PCR test. What this implies is that the Lagos State Government will enforce the new cost of PCR tests conducted at the private laboratories’ consortium”.
The Commissioner called on citizens, particularly inbound passengers who are required by law to test on arrival, to reciprocate this gesture by booking, paying and presenting themselves at any of the accredited laboratories’ consortium at approved days for their PCR tests on arrival in Lagos. He added that further reviews will be made in due course, especially as the ongoing COVID vaccination campaign gains momentum.
Abayomi, however, noted that PCR tests at approved public health laboratories and sample collection centers around the State remains absolutely free for citizens who need to test for COVID; either because they have COVID like symptoms or have been exposed to a positive case.
He frowned at the dubious and irresponsible actions of some inbound passengers who present fake PCR tests and COVID vaccination cards and fill in false travel information in an attempt to bypass the national COVID guidelines.
“It has come to the notice of the State Government that certain returning passengers present themselves at the airport either with fake COVID-9 PCR tests or fake vaccination cards or registering as children under 10 years to bypass the National guidelines or providing false COVID related information.
“These acts will not be tolerated as they represent the main catalyst of all the four waves which have had major impact on the State public health systems and the economy. Whilst we understand that it may not have been the fault of passengers but facilitated by unscrupulous individuals assisting them, we have taken a decision not to submit their passports for deactivation by the Presidential Steering Committee, in the first instance, but give them an opportunity to present themselves at our mobile court to defend themselves and help identify where they are obtaining the fake documents if applicable”, Abayomi said.
He disclosed that confirmed defaulters would be subject to fines or community service as the acts are criminal in nature.
“In the meantime, we have submitted the first 200 names of individuals who have failed to present themselves at the mobile courts to the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) and their passports have been deactivated for a period of one year. These will be published in the dailies in the coming week and the next set of names will follow in the coming month. We encourage all those who have received a text message to present themselves at the mobile court to avoid these sanctions”, the Commissioner stated.