Femi Ogbonnikan writes on various measures the Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, MFR, has put in place to fight the novel dreaded Coronavirus pandemic headlong
The fear of the emergence of the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic is the beginning of wisdom.
The emergence of the outbreak in Nigeria on February 27, 2020, sent jitters down the spines of the entire citizenry. A 44-year-old Italian national who was a consultant to Lafarge Cement arrived the country through the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, and was driven to Ewekoro Plant. He was a suspected carrier of the deadly disease. Within a jiffy, the Italian, on the directive of Ogun State government, was transferred to the Infectious Disease Hospital (IDH), Lagos where he was tested and confirmed positive of the disease.
A heightened index of suspicion amongst frontline health workers like Dr. Amarachukwu Karen Allison suspected the COVID-19 on the Italian.
Private Healthcare providers are of keen note in this because they are the first port of contact for 60 percent of the populace.
With the pro-activeness of his administration and in a bid to stave off the pandemic from escalating, Abiodun, swiftly set up a high-level technical committee chaired by the Commissioner for Health, Dr (Miss) Tomi Coker. It has the Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry, Dr Ekundayo Ayinde, Director of Public Health, Dr Festus Soyinka, Head, State Epidemiology, other directors in the Ministry, in collaboration with the officials of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), World Health Organisation (WHO), United Nations Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and other critical stakeholders, as members.
Aside the Italian’s case, five others, including a 62-year-old Male Sagamu resident who just returned to the country on March 17, 2020, and a 30-year-old female (both Ogun East) that tested positive and were immediately transferred to the Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital (OOUTH), Sagamu, Isolation centre, where they have been undergoing further observation.
In addition, two new cases, one from Obafemi-Owode Local Government (Ogun Central) and another from Yewa-South Local Government (Ogun West), thus, bringing to such the number from the index cases identified last February. Out of the six cases, three of the patients have been discharged while one other is responding to treatment and on the verge of being discharged.
The government is leaving no stone unturned to nip the incidence in the bud. It further launched a ‘Mobile App’ christened, “Ogun COVID-19 Assessment” to determine the risk of the resident’s exposure to the virus.
Seeing the welfare of the people as an epicentre of priority in decision-making, in the first instance, the governor who in collaboration with his three principal staff officials-Engr (Mrs) Noimot Salako-Oyedele (Depury-Governor), Mr Tokunbo Talabi (Secretary to the State Government) and Alhaji Shuaib Salisu (Chief of Staff) earlier met where they evaluated the level of preparedness of the state and further mapped out strategies on the next approaches to curtailing the spread of the pandemic to its barest minimum. Also, the principal officers considered the provision of relief packages and other economic stimulus for the citizenry.
Meanwhile, in a bid to cushion effects of the two-week lockdown, the state government has made provisions for the immediate disbursement of various food items such as five kg of rice, five kg of beans, five kg of garri, salt, seasoning cubed, vegetable oil sachets and tomato puree sachets, neatly packed for distribution of no fewer than 100,000 households across the state, in the first instance.
Originally, the intended target is 500,000 households and the main objective, whilst the first instance may not capture all, but it is expected that a significant number of the residents, especially intended beneficiaries, both the poor and the vulnerable, will be covered in subsequent distribution instances.
Salient among other measures taken, aside reducing the threshold of people who may gather in one place at a time from 50 to 20, the government directed further that all heads of state ministries and agencies and local governments were to draw up rosters that would ensure that 20 per cent of staff across all cadres work daily, thus, ensuring that most staff come to work once in a week; the closure of all public primary and secondary schools in the state; restrictions to government offices; ensuring that banks, telecommunications and other service providers that offer services in hubs and/or bays were required to comply with not more than 20 clients; enjoining leadership of all gated markets, shops and malls adhere to a maximum of 20 persons; and with the same measures trickled down worshipping centres and the public transportation.
With its enhanced preparedness, the government directed all Transition Chairmen across the 20 local governments in the state to identify suitable facilities such as event/social centres, school halls, community halls and others in their respective domain that could be easily prepared and developed as COVID-19 treatment facilities in the unlikely event of a surge in the coronavirus cases in the state.
The government introduced digital classes for both primary and secondary school students in response to the government’s directives on the ban on high density gathering due to the virus.
The government also distributed hand sanitizers that were produced by the Ministry of Health and Hospital Management for mass distribution across the state.
Also, the capacity of the Emergency Preparedness and Response Team, at both the state and local government levels has been strengthened, with an attendant 20 medical officer of Health, Disease Surveillance and Notification Officere (DSNO) and their Assistants, Health Educators, and Environmental Health Officerd that were trained from each of the 20 local governments; to further strengthen the team, 426 health personnel in public, private and para-military health officers were trained on the COVID-19 infection, Prevention and Control (IPC); 11 Medical Laboratory Scientists trained on the COVID-19 sample collection; reinforcement of the borders to eliminate all possible threatened through surveillance network together with Port Health Services staff at the land borders; procurement and distribution of Personal Protective Equipment for health workers and isolation centres; the assessment and evaluation of several options across the state, including the building of 250-bed hospitals in Abeokuta, the state capital.
These are the purpose-built 21-bed isolation and treatment centres at Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital (OOUTH), Sagamu, 100-bed capacity General Hospital, Iberekodo, Abeokuta and 128-bed capacity in Ikenne. Also, available are a 30-bed facility donated by ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo and another 40-bed facility by former Managing Director (MD), Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, Mr Fola Adeola, both in Abeokuta, donated to the state government. In total, 300 bed facilities are currently available for isolation and treatment, among others.
Governor Abiodun, at one of the regular media briefings , stated that the facilities put in place were not just to cope with any surge in the state, but the attendant likely overflow from the next door neighbour, like Lagos.
“Arrangements are at an advanced stage to establish our own biomedical laboratory so that we can test suspected cases in the state, without going to Lagos or Abuja”, said the Governor.
…Ogbonnikan is a Media Aide to the Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun.