By Omon-Julius Onabu
The officially declared second COVID-19 patient in Delta State had passed away even before the result of test affirming his infection with the disease was received from the laboratory, the state Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa has said in Asaba.
The governor, who disclosed this while making presentation on the Coronavirus pandemic, said that the patient who was suspected to have contracted the Coronavirus in the state had died while medical laboratory result of samples taken from him was still being awaited.
He was the second confirmed COVID-19 patient in the state, which entered the 10th day of the two-week lockdown ordered by Okowa to check the spread of the dreaded virus in the state.
Already, 17 persons ascertained to have had contact with the first patient, presently under intensive medical scrutiny, have been quarantined while the process to identify and take into isolation has commenced for those with close contact with the dead COVID-19 patient, he said.
Speaking through his Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Mr. Olisa Ifeajika, the governor explained that “the deceased had underlying health issues and had visited Lagos in the past two weeks.” The yet-to-be identified deceased had exhibited “severe symptoms (but) presented himself late to the hospital”, he said, adding, “The symptoms on the patient included difficulty in breathing, which prompted immediate necessary medical attention.
“Shortly after the specimen was taken, he passed away. However, his test results came back positive.
“In order to mitigate the spread of the virus, we are fast-tracking our contact-tracing to ensure that all those that came in contact with the deceased patient are properly isolated and tested immediately.’’
Nevertheless, the governor appealed to all and sundry “to protect citizens and residents of our state, families and friends of individuals that are exhibiting the primary symptoms of COVID-19, do not keep it from the authorities.’’
Meanwhile, Governor Okowa said that the Centre for Communicable Diseases and Research built by the state government at the Federal Medical Centre, Asaba, was ready for use.
Okowa spoke after inspecting the facility yesterday, said everything required to make the centre receive and treat COVID-19 patients were ready, and that relevant staff had been trained for the centre.
The governor, who was accompanied by the Commissioner of Health, Dr. Mordi Ononye and his Information counterpart, Mr. Charles Aniagwu, said, “I just finished inspecting the Centre for Communicable Diseases and Research at the Federal Medical Centre Asaba.
“The centre is fully ready; all the necessary facilities are in place, including ventilators which have been installed, and very importantly, there is a side room where the nurses are able to completely monitor every activity going on in every room, and which is really very good.
“The Dialysis machine is already being installed now although that is not something that will be required by most patients.
“A very little percentage of the patients will require the Dialysis machine, but with all these in place, we can say that the centre is fully ready, and the already trained staff are fully ready to receive any case.”
In another development, the information announced the commencement of the process to review downwards the state 2020 annual budget, saying it was a major decision at this week’s state Executive Council (EXCO) meeting on Thursday.
He said that critical ministries would begin to take a look at the different projects they were handling with a view to giving value to the people and ensure that even beyond the COVID-19, the economy was kept safe and sound.
Aniagwu said, “At today’s Exco, we were much more concerned about the state of the economy of our state, and that meant that we needed to take a second look at the 2020 Budget as well as take other decisions that will make life much better for our people. In view of this, the Exco took a second look at the 2020 budget with a view to knowing how we can prioritise.
“You will recall that the Exco approved N389 billion for 2020 Budget and in the wisdom of the State House of Assembly, it was taken to N395 billion and that was signed into law.
“That particular budget took into cognisance certain parameters like the budget benchmark on oil price at 57 dollars per barrel and other indices.
“However, going by the present realities triggered by two principal factors, the drastic reduction in oil price in international market which has fallen far below the projected estimates used in putting together the 2020 budget.
“Secondly, the lull in the global economy today triggered largely by the COVID-19 which has led a number of states to close down commercial and economic activities.
“These two factors combined, have very grave implications on the ability of government to continue as if nothing has happened and so we are concerned with how best we can serve our people by ensuring that the pains of COVID-19 and the sharp fall of oil will trigger will not directly hit our people the way it is coming.”