PALPABLE fear has enveloped workers and residents of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka.
There is palpable fear among them because two more professors including a law lecturer and incumbent attorney-general of Oyo State, Oyelowo Oyewo, have been confirmed positive of the deadly coronavirus disease.
This is coming on the heels of the country’s new record high figure of confirmed cases as announced on Wednesday evening by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
The centre had announced a total of 1,664 new cases which ranks as the country’s highest daily figure so far since the index case was first recorded on February 27, 2020.
But while Mr Oyewo neither picked his call nor replied to a text message sent to him on the matter, the chief press secretary to Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, Taiwo Adisa, simply said; “I don’t comment on what I don’t know.”
Meanwhile, a top management official at the university, who does not want to be named due to the confidentiality of the matter, confirmed that both Mr Oyewo and a professor of African History at the university’s department of history and strategic studies, faculty of arts, Rufus Akinyele, are down with the disease.
PREMIUM TIMES, however, learnt that while Mr Akinyele has been discharged from an isolation centre at the infectious disease hospital (IDH), Yaba, Lagos, and recuperating at his official quarters on the campus, Mr Oyewo is on self-isolation at an undisclosed location.
The university in partnership with relevant authorities has also commenced the tracing of some contacts following the death of the institution’s former dean of the faculty of education, Duro Ajeyalemi, on Wednesday.
This newspaper exclusively learnt that Mr Ajeyalemi had on December 31 reported at the university’s medical centre before he was referred to the university’s teaching hospital in Idi-Araba.
The university’s vice-chancellor, Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, who confirmed the contact tracing process to our reporter on the phone, however, allayed the fear of the residents.
Mr Ogundipe said the doctors and other officials that attended to Mr Ajeyalemi at the medical centre had been asked to self-isolate while they also go for proper testing.
“We are making efforts to ensure that those to be tested for the disease are able to get tested on time. There is no need for panic, the situation is well under control but we advise everyone to follow the Covid-19 guidelines and protocols adequately,” Mr Ogundipe, a professor, said on the phone.
Further findings by our reporter revealed that an unidentified daughter of one of the lecturers on the campus was also on Wednesday transferred to LUTH with the medical centre’s ambulance.
But the vice-chancellor said he could not confirm the report, saying he was yet to be briefed on any development relating to that.
Panic on campus
Many academic and non-academic workers who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES on condition of anonymity said they are afraid of moving around on the campus for fear of interacting with possible carriers of the virus.
The vice-chancellor also confirmed that he had to work from a hideout on the campus on Wednesday to avoid contacts with many visitors who might want to sympathise with him and the university on the death of two retired professors – Oye Ibidapo-Obe and Duro Ajeyalemi.
The two dons had died within the same week having contracted the disease. Though it is unclear whether they both attended the same event, the rumour circulating the campus was that both Ibidapo-Obe and Ajeyalemi, among other lecturers of Ijesha origin had recently attended a social event in Ikoyi.
Mr Oyewo was also recently hosted at a reception in his honour over his attainment of the status of a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN).
A lecturer in the university’s faculty of social sciences told our reporter on the phone that he would not risk any interaction with anyone, and “so I have opted for virtual channels to interact with anyone.”
The university’s deputy vice-chancellor in charge of development services, Folasade Ogunsola, had on Wednesday advised Nigerians to avoid partying “at this critical time.”
The professor of medical microbiology said the best precaution is for people to use masks appropriately and sanitise their hands regularly if they don’t have access to running water and soap.