…Says A’Ibom Equipped to Contain Future Outbreak
…Health Commissioner Opens Up on Effect of Chloroquine
The Akwa Ibom State Government has dismissed as false, the news that the State has recorded confirmed cases of the Corona Virus epidemic.
This was made known on Friday, March 20 by the Commissioner for Health, Dr Dominic Ukpong while addressing the press.
Describing the news as being mischievous, the Health Commissioner stated that “that there is no confirmed case of COVID-19 infection in Akwa lbom State”.
He explained that before the first confirmed case in Nigeria was reported, the state government had, through the Ministry of Health, initiated measures to prevent the outbreak and contain the infection in the event of an outbreak in the State.
Dr Ukpong mentioned some of the actions initiated to include creating awareness through the print and electronic media, creating jingles to sensitize residents with relevant information on COVID-19 infection, adding that the awareness was ongoing in five (5) languages including English, Pidgin, Ibibio, Annang and Oron.
He said sensitization and awareness campaigns have been taken to a cross-section of citizens of the State including Local Government Chairpersons, Traditional Rulers, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) as well as the Management of Public and Private hospitals.
The Commissioner offered insight to the fact that Surveillance, prevention and infection control measures have been instituted in hospitals, and that Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) have been distributed to all health facilities to facilitate infection prevention and control.
He noted that other Screening and injection materials have been procured and are being distributed to health facilities and other strategic locations in the State. These materials, he mentioned include Infrared thermometers and hand sanitizers.
“Emergency Response Team of the Ministry has been activated and Local Government Chairmen have been directed to set up and fund Preparedness and Response Committees in their Local Government Areas to coordinate response to COVID-19 infection in collaboration with the State Ministry of Health”, he said.
“We are currently about to hold training sessions for these committees and will participate in Town Hall meetings in the three Senatorial Districts on this matter”, he added.
“Functional ambulances and rapid response teams are on standby to move suspected or confirmed cases, if any, to the Emergency Operation Centre at lkot Ekpene.”
The Health Commissioner assured that the Emergency Operation and Treatment Centre (EOC), in Ikot Ekpene is ready to receive, and care for any confirmed case of COVID-19 infection if it occurs.
He stated that the State Ministry of Health is in constant communication with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), adding that the Directorate of Public Health Services has received sample collection kits from NCDC and are updating the management of the Ministry on, global, national and State COvID-19 data and information daily.
The Commissioner however admitted that the South South States of the Federation are more vulnerable to the virus because of the peculiarity and vulnerability of their location with International Airports and Long Shore line coupled with Multinational companies which bring in several foreign nationals.
He said owing to their vulnerability, the Health Commissioners from these States have met and have outlined strategies of collaborative support for one another to safeguard the region against entry and further spread of infectious diseases.
While advising the people to observe social distancing, he stressed the need to observe the simple rules of Personal and Respiratory Hygiene which include regular hand washing with soap, under running water and the use of hand sanitizer where there is no water.
Dr Ukpong stressed that anyone with symptoms of fever, cough, sore throat, difficulty in breathing, general feeling of unwellness (malaise), common cold (catarrh or runny nose, sneezing, cough) should self-isolate and invite Emergency Response Team for assessment and follow-up.
While noting that there is currently no cure for the novel virus, the Commissioner said it is yet to be confirmed through science that chloroquine can actually tackle the virus.
He called on the people to exercise patience with the researchers before indulging in self-medication with Chloroquine, which he said may cause more damage to the system.
The numbers he said should be contacted for any report as regards the novel virus are: 0818-941-1111, 0904-557-5515, 0703-521-1919.
Credit: Ekemini Simon