Rivers Says Adequate Information Key to Containment of Coronavirus

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Paulinus Nsirim

Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt

Rivers State Government has said timely dissemination of adequate information remains a vital step to contain Coronavirus ravaging most parts of the world.

The state government has therefore charged the media to take steps to give relevant information at the right time to the people.

Addressing a multi-sectoral meeting of Rivers State Ministry of Health yesterday, the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Paulinus Nsirim, said as part of preventive measures to ensure that the state is in a better stead to combat the Coronavirus which had been detected in Lagos, the media in the state should give relevant information at the right time.

He said it was essential for the media to understand its social responsibility to society in terms of providing relevant information to ensure safe health.

The commissioner noted that the meeting was convened to set up an inter-ministerial committee to strengthen the enlightenment campaign in the state.

“The Ministry of Health cannot do it alone. That’s why the general managers of the state-owned media houses are all here,” he said.

He charged the leadership of the media houses to ensure that they set up strategic platforms in their various organisation to reach out to various stakeholder groups in the state.

“This is a corporate social responsibility, and everyone seated around this table must understand that we owe our state the duty to take this very seriously,” he said.

Nsirim, who noted the commitment of Governor Nyesom Wike in ensuring good healthcare for the citizens of the state in terms of provision of required infrastructure and equipment in the health sector, recalled the same determined effort that made the state stood out during the fight against Ebola in the past years.

“Last time, when we had Ebola crisis in the country, the response that was set up by Rivers State was recommended by several people. As a state, we need to show that leadership, we need to show our people in the state that we understand what is going on, and then give them the right information,” he added.

Consequently, he charged the leadership of the state media houses to “create strategic time and space to give information on the Coronavirus,” noting that “we can’t afford, as a state, to record any (Coronavirus) incident. That is why all hands must be on deck, and the enlightenment is key.”

Speaking on behalf of the Ministry of Health, the Director, Public Health and Disease Control, Dr. Golden Owhonda, emphasised on the preparedness of the ministry to both check the importation of the virus to the state, and contain it should there be need for it.

Owhonda, who represented the Acting Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr. Chinwe Tonye Atata, said having successfully handled similarly situation in the days of Ebola, the state is in a good stead to combat the Coronavirus, even as the ministry needs to up its game.

“In terms of capacity for case management, we’re building our surge efforts. We’re training more adhoc staff for readiness even though we have one of the best hands you can find in the country. Because we’ve been exposed to Ebola, we’ve had cases of Lassa (fever). So, the capacity for pathogenic disease containment is very strong right here in the state.

“We intend to boost this more because this is a new disease. It’s a learning point for a great deal of technical people. So, everyday we’re building our capacity to be able to contain any form of importation of this disease into the state”, he said.

He stated that Wike had provided whatever is required to ensure that the state maintains safe health.