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Covid-19: Plateau govt alarmed by “community transmission” of virus

by Christiana Gokyo, Jos

The Plateau State government says the state is now experiencing what it termed as “community transmission” of the Covid-19 virus, and which has made the state to commence mass testing of its citizens.

The state governor, Simon Lalong, disclosed this on Tuesday during a press conference, which held at Government House in Jos, while stating that, currently, the state has been given sample collection target of 87,000, “meaning, we have tested about 485 people per day.

“As at today, July 28, 2020, we have tested a total of cumulative samples numbering 14,816 out of which 10,922 results have been received. Pending results are 3,894,” he said, adding that, “from all the tests conducted, 982 have tested positive.”

According to the governor, “The total numbers of people on admission are 221 (Riyom Trauma Hospital with 18; JUTH 64, PSSH 70 and BhUTH 7), and about 145 are on home management, while the remaining are being moved to treatment centers. All those on admission are doing fine and responding to treatment.

“Cumulatively, we have discharged 446 persons and, sadly, recorded 19 deaths. We are observing 454 suspected cases at the moment. The health workers, who are on the frontline, have also been affected by the virus.

“So far, the total health workers affected is 58 (10 doctors, 15 nurses, 3 CHEWs, 2 J/CHEWs, 3 pharmacist technicians, 4 laboratory scientists, 1 lab technician, 1 record clerk, 1 watchman and 14 cleaners),” he stated.  

Lalong further explained that, “Following the directive by the governor that, all staff of ministries and MDAs be screened, we have so far conducted tests for 4,422 staff of 54 MDAs with 174 of them testing positive; the tests are continuing. This makes Plateau State the first in the country to commence mass testing of Civil Servants.

“The implication of these statistics is that, there are increasing numbers of those infected with the disease in the state, which is a result of the increase in testing capacity. These figures should not cause panic and anxiety but rather make all of us resolve to adopt safety precautions and also adhere to the guidelines,” he urged.

According to Lalong, “You may have seen the record of yesterday’s NCDC summary, which showed that Plateau has148 cases. I wish to clarify that these are accumulated results, which were delayed because of the shortage of reagents at the NVRI lab in Vom, and they are not results of a single day, please.

“We are, therefore, widening our contact tracing, which is becoming very challenging, considering the increased cases relative to manpower and resources. However, the governor is doing everything possible to close the gaps to enable us be ahead,” he noted.

He said, “Government also made efforts to increase the Covid-19 testing facilities in the state, which I am happy to inform you that as at today, we have 3 testing centres in Plateau State located at the NVRI Vom, Plateau State Specialists Hospital and the Jos University Teaching Hospital.

“This has greatly enhanced our testing capacity and enabled us to know the extent of the spread of the disease in the state and also respond appropriately,” he noted.

“In view of the forthcoming Eid-el-Kabir celebrations on Friday, 31st July, 2020, the State Task Force on COVID-19 convened a meeting with the Muslim Ummah and the Security Chiefs in the State. At the end of the discussions, a harmonized guideline was put forward to direct the celebrations in the state.

“These guidelines were presented to the governor and chairman of the State Task Force on Covid-19, which he approved as follows: that the prayers at Eid grounds be suspended in the state and restricted to Friday Mosques only, while at the same time observing all Covid-19 protocols.

“Also, elderly people are encouraged to stay at home, as they are the most vulnerable to the virus, and all festivities, including visits to recreational centers such as Zoo and Wildlife Park be halted.

“The discussion urged residents to strictly use face-masks during the occasion and especially children conveying food items to neighbours, while movement of commercial vehicles is to be restricted, except on emergency cases, while a two (2) days’ suspension on tricycles movement shall be observed before and after the prayers on the 31st July – 1st August, 2020.”

According to him, the federal government’s curfew, from 10:00 pm to 4:00 am, shall be enforced, and urged for greater enforcement of existing Covid-19 protocols during the Sallah celebrations.

The discussion further called on the Covid-19 Task Force to carry out more sensitization in major towns, using the enlightenment vans and other resources of the Ministry of Information and Communication.

It also urged local government council chairmen to be engaged and to replicate the measures enumerated in their jurisdictions for compliance at that level, while calling on the citizens to submit themselves to Covid-19 testing, and re-emphasized that this disease is not a death sentence and there should be no reason whatsoever for stigmatization and discrimination.

“This shows that we can defeat this virus by adopting safety protocols and treating it just like any other ailment. The fact is that, we are going to have to live with this pandemic for a long time, and the earlier we get used to the guidelines of preventing it, the better for us.”

Governor Lalong also informed the citizens that the Plateau State House of Assembly has passed the revised budget into law, which will be assented to by the governor any moment from now, and wishes our Muslim brothers and sisters a Happy Eid-el-Kabir, and urged all citizens to take all precautions and stay safe.

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