Tony Osauzo and Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin
Edo State has recorded its first case of the novel coronavirus, but the state has assured the public that measures have been put in place to curtail its spread.
State Governor Mr Godwin Obaseki, gave the assurance while briefing reporters on the preparedness of his administration in tackling the spread of the virus in the state.
He said although the state is witnessing its first case, there is no need to panic, stressing that it is not a death sentence.
“I am addressing you today on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that has destabilised the economies and social existence of many countries in the last four months. COVID-19 has finally found its way into our country as Nigeria reveals that there has been a number of confirmed cases,” the governor remarked.
“In Edo State, we have developed our action plan to cope with the pandemic. The postponed National Sports Festival, Edo 2020, gave us the opportunity to put in place a contingency plan. We have three isolation centres in Benin City, Irrua and Auchi, a Federal Government testing centre in Irrua and a large number of very well trained certified workers to trace and treat patients.
“Coronavirus is not a death sentence, so there is no need to panic. With swift identification and proper management and care, many persons who have been infected with the virus have made full recoveries, if we all work together to take the right precautions.
“The common signs and symptoms of the Coronavirus infection include dry cough, fever and difficulty in breathing,” he said.
Obaseki said as part of government measures to bring the dreaded virus to a standstill, various centres have been designated for those who have contracted the virus, adding that social distancing should also be fully maintained.
“Since COVID-19 is a virus that is transmitted from one person to another through close contact, the most effective and proven remedy to reduce its spread is through social distancing. Social distancing involves reducing as much as possible physical contacts with others,” the governor explained.
“The government of Edo State, therefore, advises that from today, Monday 23 of March 2020, every citizen should practice social distancing to prevent the coronavirus from spreading.
“In order to give effect to our social distancing policy, gatherings of more than 50 is prohibited in Edo state till further notice.
“All schools are to remain closed in Edo State until further notice.
“Public transportation will remain in operation. However, crowding in commercial vehicles should be avoided.
“All public officers below grade level 12 (except those providing essential services such as fire and healthcare) should work from home till further notice.
“Citizens are advised to postpone unnecessary travels in and out of Edo State and if possible stay at home,” he said.
The governor called on the citizens of the state to report anyone who has just returned from Europe and other affected countries to the appropriate authority for prompt response and interventions.
“If you or you know of anyone who arrived from Europe, America or Asia in the last 30 days, please give the details of such persons including their phone numbers so that we can provide screening and any required support to them. You should call 08084096723, 08064258163, 08035835529, 08074132019.
“If you or any relative notice any signs and symptoms of coronavirus, please, report to the nearest designated hospitals (Central hospital, Edo Specialist Hospital, Stella Obasanjo Hospital, Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, University of Benin Teaching Hospital and Auchi General Hospital) for monitoring, possible testing and treatment for better chances of recovery.
“The Edo State Government is very interested in the health, welfare and social support for vulnerable groups, particularly the elderly and persons with chronic diseases. Please, call and report any cases to 08084096723, 08064258163, 08035835529, 08074132019.
“The Edo State taskforce on COVID-19, which is headed by me and made up of prominent leaders in the state, will meet frequently to review and update the situation,” Mr Obaseki said.
The governor further urged the citizens of the state to adhere to all safety measures.
“As you go about your daily activities, apply extra caution to wash hands regularly under running water and use alcohol-based sanitisers.
“As we face this challenge, I call on Edo residents to remain calm and co-operate with us and ensure that you follow the instructions and steps which have been outlined to curtail the spread of COVID-19. Be rest assured that your government will provide the required leadership and support to check this pandemic in Edo State,” he said.
On his part, Chief Medical Director, Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, Prof Sylvanus Okogbenin, who confirmed the first coronavirus case in Edo, said the patient is stable and undergoing treatment.
“This is the first we are confirming in Edo State,” he said. “It was somebody who travelled to one of the European countries, came back, and samples were taken to the state epidemiologist and they confirmed the diagnosis to be COVID-19.
“He is now isolated and receiving treatment. Many of the cases are not very severe; you have mild, moderate, severe and critical; but this falls between the mild to moderate disease,” he said.