States: how we’re preparing for coronavirus

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Some states on Thursday said they were ready to tackle the coronavirus pandemic should it spread to their territories.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Director-General Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu warned that coronavirus (COVID-19) will reach every state in Nigeria.

The virus has spread to 19 states so far (Lagos, Osun, Kano, Edo, Oyo, Ogun, Katsina, Bauchi, Kaduna, Akwa Ibom, Kwara, Delta, Ondo, Enugu, Ekiti, Rivers, Niger, Benue and Anambra), as well as to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

It is yet to reach 17 states, such as Abia, Kogi, Ebonyi, Borno, Yobe, Sokoto, Kebbi and Imo.

Their health commissioners and other officials, who spoke with our correspondents in different interviews, said they were prepared for an outbreak.

Abia Commissioner for Health, Dr Joe Osuji, said the state has fully equipped isolation centres.

He said the one at Amachara General Hospital has a storeroom containing 7,000 personal protective equipment (PPE).

Osuji said apart from the two five-bedded wards, there is a provision for 100-bedded extension in case of patients overflow, with additional 2,500 PPEs.

Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Onyebuchi Ememanka, added: “We have three isolation centres and in a matter of days, another one will be coming up in Aba.”

Kogi State government had set up a Squadron Committee on coronavirus and Lassa fever headed by the Deputy Governor, Edward Onoja, with the Commissioner for Health, Dr Saka Haruna as the secretary.

Ministry of Health spokeswoman Dorothy Onoja said the state had organised sensitisation exercises and was building health workers’ capacity.

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“The state government has set up temporary isolation wards at the Confluence Advanced Medical Diagnostic and Imaging Centre (CAMDIC), Lokoja,” she added.

Ebonyi Commissioner for Health, Umezuruike Daniel, said the state had been working hard to ensure the virus does not get there.

He expressed pride in the Virology Centre of the Alex Ekwueme Federal Teaching Hospital in Ebonyi State, which has been receiving samples from neighbouring states for COVID-19 testing.

“So far, we have tested 74 cases from Ebonyi and all came out negative,” he said.

Umezuruike said the state had equipped isolation/treatment centres in Unity Square Abakaliki and another at Ishielu.

“We have also selected six general hospitals to serve as observation centres, two in each senatorial zone in our response protocol,” he said

The Yobe State Committee on Control and Prevention on COVID-19, headed by the Deputy Governor, Idi Barde Gubana, said it has been preparing.

Commissioner for Health, Dr Mohammed Lawan Gana, who is the vice-chairman, said the state was taking the lockdown enforcement seriously to prevent spread from neighbouring states, such as Kano.

He said public places have been fumigated.

Commissioner for Information, Abdullahi Bego, added traditional rulers were playing a key role in mobilising citizens.

“We hope that this strategy will also help us to mitigate any community spread if this virus finds its way into our state even though we hope to maintain a zero-status level,” Bego said.

Borno Governor Babagana Zulum had on Monday shut all boundaries to ensure that the state maintains its zero-case status.

The governor ordered a reduction of passengers in commercial vehicles and tricycles while civil servants were directed to work from home.

The governor had also met with managers of 51 internally displaced persons (IDP) camps in Maiduguri on the need to enforce strict measures to prevent COVID-19 transmission.

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All camp managers from Gamboru-Ngala, Damasak, Kalabalge, Banki, Bama and Monguno were directed not to accept IDPs from neighbouring countries, such as Cameroon and Chad.

Imo State government said it has equipped six isolation centres at the Okigwe General Hospital, Aboh Mbaise General Hospital, Orlu General Hospital, Federal Medical Centre, Umuguma General Hospital and the Ultra-modern Well-Being Centre.

Secretary of the Taskforce on COVID-19 Prevention and Control Committee, Dr Austin Okeji, said an operational-ready test and treatment centre is in place in Owerri, with a molecular laboratory to test all viruses, including COVID-19 and Ebola.

He said grassroots capacity was also being built, while enlightenment campaigns were ongoing.

Sokoto Commissioner for Health, Dr Muhammad Ali Inname, restated the state’s commitment to sustaining its zero-case status.

He said the closure of schools was part of measures to tackle the spread, as well as training of medical personnel, provision of isolation centres and public sensitisation driven by key stakeholders, such as the traditional leaders, including the Sultan.

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Sokoto had earlier imposed restrictions on movement and social gathering and had asked workers on Grade Level 12 and below to work from home.

Kebbi had designated an isolation Centre at Kebbi Medical Centre, Kalgo. Treatment and tools have also been provided.

There is an intensive care unit, including mechanical ventilation, at the Sir Yahaya Memorial Hospital in Birnin Kebbi.

The state has also implemented other COVID-19 prevention protocols.

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