Lagos says it contains Coronavirus better than Italy, Iran and Spain? But that claim is misleading

AKIN Abayomi, the Commissioner for Health in Lagos State while reeling out the State’s progress report in managing the coronavirus scourge, disclosed that Lagos State had contained the virus spread better than Italy, Iran, and Spain.

But the claim is incorrect because the Commissioner distorted the fact.

At the media briefing held at the state secretariat, he confirmed that all the coronavirus confirmed cases in Lagos state were clinically stable as the health ministry’s strategy currently deployed by the state was effective in tackling the disease.

“Lagos has 27 general hospitals and almost 300 health practitioners and a teaching hospital. We are not struggling at the moment, we have health professionals and volunteers.

“The strategies we are deploying in Lagos is effective, we are only seeing between six and ten positive cases in a day, that is a very slow rate of increase compared to what we see in Europe and other countries where the increase is by hundreds and thousands,” he said.

Appraising the health ministry’s efforts, he said Lagos State had managed the number of infections when compared to other countries like Spain, Italy and Iran.

“After four weeks, it would appear that Lagos has fared better in managing the crisis, compared to the situation in Spain, Italy and Iran that got into the exponential phase after three to four weeks,” he said.

Is Lagos curtailing the spread of COVID – 19 compared to Iran, Spain and Italy?

Without increased testing for the virus, it will be difficult to effectively keep tabs on the spread of the disease, Cynthia Cox, director of the Peterson-Kaiser Health System Tracker and expert on developing health systems asserted.

“The testing failure is (going) to put additional strain on the already challenged health system,” she said.

However, Abayomi’s comparison with Italy is largely exaggerated considering the fewer number of tests carried out in Lagos State with an estimated population of 20 million people.

According to the latest records from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, a total of 846 cases were tested as of March 26, across the country with Lagos accounting for only 250 of those tests.

Whereas, Italy’s most ravaged cities such as Lombardy, Veneto and Emilia-Romagna, have conducted tests as high as 121,000, 113,000 and 58,000 respectively.

In a report, Lombardy with 10 million people has endured 35,000 COVID-19 cases and about 5,000 deaths, while Veneto which is home to 5 million people, has seen just 7,000 cases and fewer than 300 deaths.

The size of the outbreak in both cities was limited to extensive testing and proactive tracing which was strictly enforced in Venato at the onset of the outbreak before the same measures were applied weeks later in Lombardy.

Italy currently has more than 53,000 recorded infections and more than 4,800 dead, and the rate of infections keeps increasing, with more than half the cases and fatalities coming in the past week.

Spain, alongside Italy, are the most-affected countries in the European Union, EU, having placed stiff restrictions in both countries as their response to the coronavirus outbreak the two together account for more than half of the world’s coronavirus death toll.

In Spain, its testing capacity is limited to 15,000 to 20,000 tests per day which have been able to identify a huge number of asymptomatic cases surpassing the entire tests carried out in Nigeria since the outbreak.



    Iran’s death toll exceeded 3,000 with 138 new fatalities but the number of tests for the disease is over 80,000 with an estimated 6,000 tests carried out daily according to a statement by its health ministry.


    Though Lagos has lower incident cases of coronavirus than Italy, Iran, and Spain, it is unable to conduct as many tests as any of these countries.

    Hence the claim that Lagos manages the pandemic better than the three countries is an exaggeration and a  distortion of fact.


    Amos Abba is a journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in the society.

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