The Akwa Ibom state government has maintained that there is no confirmed case of coronavirus disease, covid-19, in the state.The government made this known through the Honourable Commissioner for Health, Dr Ukpong, during a routine update on the global pandemic at Government House Press Center, Uyo, yesterday.
According to him, "let me use this opportunity to state emphatically that, as at today, there is no confirmed case of COVID-19 disease in Akwa Ibom State. If and when there is, it will be announced through official quarters".
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The health expert expressed concern that in the last few days, the rumour mill has been awash with unverified reports about the prevalence of COVID 19 in Akwa Ibom state, reassuring citizens of government's determination to continue to put in place measures to safeguard lives and properties of citizens and residents in the state.
He went further to highlight various measures put in place by the state government to maintain surveillance, detection and containment of the disease.
"The state government has set up monitoring processes at the various entry points to the state, adding that the Victor Attah International Airport, Uyo currently has the most sophisticated passengers screening facility/process in Nigeria.
"Functional ambulances and rapid response teams are on standby to move suspected or confirmed cases, if any, to the Emergency Operation and Treatment Centre (EOC), in Ikot Ekpene. We have distributed Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to all health facilities to facilitate infection prevention and control.
"Other screening and infection materials have been procured and are being distributed to health facilities and other strategic locations in the State. These include Infra-red thermometers, hand sanitizers etc. We have set up incidents management rooms in the major secondary health care facilities in the state.
Dr Ukpong also stated that training and intensive enlightenment awareness sessions have been conducted in all nooks and crannies of the state, adding that the Road Transport Workers union are directed to provide handwashing facilities with soap and running water as well as hand sanitizers at the entrance to all parks/garages.
"Commercial vehicle operators are instructed to reduce the number of passengers in their vehicles by half of the standard capacity of the vehicle. Similarly, passengers are advised to wash their hands with soap and running water and sanitize them before and after each trip.
On containment at coastal borders, the health commissioner said "we call on the Nigerian Navy to heighten their patrol of our shorelines; which are under their jurisdiction, to check the influx of foreigners into the state and reduce the chances of infected persons gaining illegal entry into the state.
"We have directed the chairmen of all Local Government areas to set up emergency response task force to monitor and promptly report suspected cases".
He stated that despite the surveillance, prevention and infection control measures being put in place, the government is monitoring the situation with respect to social gatherings and relying more on preventive measures to curtail the onslaught of the virus.
"Consequently, the task force has been mandated to monitor preventive measures put in place for gatherings of more than 10 persons, including churches, marriage/funeral ceremonies, and other celebrations who will be accommodated within the prescribed social distance of not less than 6ft.
He warned that non-compliance will necessitate an immediate shutdown of such facilities by the government.
"All schools in the state; both public and private, will close this Friday, March 27, 2020, as earlier announced. While we will provide a further update as the need arises we urge mischief makers to desist from peddling unverified news or risk facing the full weight of the law.
"It is important to continue to observe SOCIAL DISTANCING, avoid shaking hand, and embracing, and keep at least six feet distance from anyone who is sneezing or coughing.
"We must also continue to observe stringent Personal and Respiratory Hygiene including regular washing of hands with soap under running water, using hand sanitizers as already advised, coughing/sneezing into a disposable tissue paper or the cuff of the elbow where no tissue is available and proper disposal of the used tissue, wearing a mask if you cannot properly move away from any person with those symptoms and or give the person a mask to wear.
The commissioner urged anyone with symptoms of fever, cough, sore throat, difficulty in breathing, generally feeling unwell (malaise), common cold (catarrh or runny nose, sneezing, cough) should self-isolate and invite the Emergency Response Team for assessment and follow-up.
"Furthermore, if you notice any person with these symptoms, please report immediately. The numbers to call are 0818-941-1111, 0904-557-5515, 0703-521-1919. We reassure you that the identity of the caller will be held in confidentiality", he said.