Delta State Commissioner for Information, Mr Charles Aniagwu on Monday night discussed Combating COVID-19 pandemic in Delta on AIT’s “Democracy Today’’ in Asaba via Skype.
Question: Your neighbouring state of Edo has confirmed a case of the COVID-19, what is Delta State Government doing to avert further spread of the virus to Delta?
Aniagwu: The COVID-19 is a virus that has come to show that it doesn’t have respect for government, but what we have done is to try as much as possible to put in place possible preventive measures and in case it comes, how to also manage the challenges that comes with it. Its unfortunate that it is a disease that has come into our territory and of course you know what it has done across the length and breath of the developed world and how it has somehow overwhelmed their medical expertise and of course we do hope that when it spreads, because you can’t be using if at this time, that we will have by the grace of God the strength to contain this particular contagious virus. Good enough, the index, that is the first contact, has been reported to have recovered and has now tested negative but here in Delta we have put in place a lot of options;
Number one, inspite of the fact we don’t have it in Delta, the government of Senator Dr Ifeanyi Okowa has put in place a lot of facilities including where we can have a holding point where anybody that is suspected to have it could be placed pending when we are able to ascertain whether the person have it or not and then from there we have also developed a place where we can for the purpose of case management. Of course, you know at the moment it is reported not to have any known vaccine you can deploy to treat it, but what we have done is to try as much as possible to put in place those things that will enable us not to be caught napping when it comes, but we pray it doesn’t come.
Question: What is your government planning to do to alleviate the sufferings of your people in case of any lockdown?
Aniagwu: Well most importantly, we are putting in a lot of efforts aimed at preventing the spread if it eventually gets to this part of the country, but beyond the preventive approaches that we have been able to seriously emphasise, we have also if you will recall, last week the Governor that’s my boss, Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa and the governor of Sokoto State Rt Hon Aminu Tambuwal had course to inspect the Isolation Centre that we built at the Federal Medical Centre here in Asaba and It is reputed to be one of the best in the country in terms of facilities, but beyond that we have also established another one which is quite bigger at the Central Hospital here in Asaba. But what we are trying to do is to as much as possible take it closer to the people. In Warri, we have also earmarked a place and a lot of activities is going on at the Warri Central Hospital and at the Central Senatorial district, in Oghara, we have also set up an isolated area where we can also deal with such issues. But the one in Asaba we inspected it this afternoon. Though at the moment it is a 24 bed space, it has the capacity to take as much as 50 to 52 persons, but what we have done is to give some gap but if it is stretched, we pray it doesn’t get to that level, we will be able to deal with it.
Now we have been able to carve out an area that is going to serve as a holding place where they can take the sample and then send it to Irrua for testing and if it happens that the person tests positive, the person is now moved to a place where we have the treatment centre. The centre is where we handle symptoms that usually comes with COVID-19. Because it is believed that as you continue to treat those symptoms, it is possible that the individual will rise up to the challenge. Because when he becomes immune to the extent of withstanding whatever threat that the COVID-19 poses, of course the international community particularly the World Health Organisation (WHO) is putting in a frantic effort to ensure that vaccines are developed to curb this particular health challenge. But just like the other viruses that comes after sometime the body is able to build it’s own soldiers and then mount immunity to be able to withstand it and so we are hoping that a solution will be found soon to combat the pandemic.
Question: There are those who believe that the government isn’t doing enough in terms of creating testing labs, is Irrua not too far for the test?
Aniagwu: Don’t forget that COVID-19 has not always been here, even across the international community, the issue of testing is still a challenge. We believe that the testing kit is not something you just buy off the shelves otherwise you may buy something that will not give you the right result and by the time you test it, first it is possible the person is negative and then you are using the wrong equipment for diagnosis you will get the wrong result. At the moment, Irrua is very very well equipped and it is the only centre in the South-South and we have also taken steps hoping that as we make progress, we equip our centre where we are managing with testing equipment if you want to just go to the market and procure a testing equipment you may just end up bringing in what will not add value to you but what is most important is that we are not resting, we are taking steps and beyond taking steps we are also sensitising our people on proper sanitary behaviour just like you saw in that commercial a while ago, asking them to try as much as possible to maintain reasonable distance, as much as possible at the same time the use of sanitisers, all these are measures aimed at ensuring that in case you happen to have any of the virus, either in your palm or anywhere around you, these measures we believe will help not to pass it to another person. And before you touch your face or possibly get properly contaminated, you would have been able to wash it off your system.
All these we are doing and we have also asked our people to as much as possible not to gather in very compact places. We have taken steps and as from Wednesday we believe that no school will open because the Governor has directed that all the schools in Delta should close but from tomorrow none of them is allowed to gather in the assembly again. They are not supposed to assemble and anybody who does that, the person and the school will be sanctioned when they resume. And so these are the steps that we are taking and we ask our people to comply in the overall interest of all.