By Ernest Chinwo
The Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, has commended the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, for his firm and personal leadership to check the spread of coronavirus in the state.
Speaking during a meeting between Wike and officials of NCDC at the Government House, Port Harcourt Sunday, Ihekweazu said Rivers State is important in the fight to stop the spread of the virus.
He said: “This is a working visit. I want to thank you for your firm, strong, committed and personally-led response to Covid-19 in Rivers State.
“Rivers is one of the most important gateways into the country; one of the most important economies in the country. So, Rivers is important, not only to you but to the entire country.
“We thank you very much for your leadership and we need your leadership to continue in order for us to continue doing our work nationally.”
The NCDC Director General said that his team is in Rivers State to engage with the state Public Health team to consolidate on the successes on the fight against coronavirus.
“This is actually a joint team. I have come with the officer in charge of World Health Organisation. We have come together to offer our support,” he said.
The Director General noted that because of the unique nature of the virus, all stakeholders must work in unity.
He said: “We share information across the states to make sure that everyone is informed as they can possibly be. We share information on new developments, strategies, what works and what doesn’t work.”
He said that because the prolonged lockdown cannot continue indefinitely, stakeholders must begin to work towards gradually reopening the economy without endangering the population.
Responding on behalf of the Rivers State Government, the Commissioner for Health, Prof. Princewill Chike, said Wike has strengthened the Public Health System of the state to fight coronavirus.
Chike said as a result of the proactive leadership of Wike, the state has no current confirmed case of coronavirus, adding that the two cases in the state have been treated and discharged.
“Since January, Rivers State has had two cases of coronavirus. A 19-year-old model and a 62-year-old retiree. They have been treated and discharged. All the 214 persons that had contact with them were placed under surveillance. Except for two cases, all other contacts have exited Isolation,” he said.
The Health Commissioner said that the proactive approach of Governor Wike in tackling coronavirus centres mainly on early detection, prevention and treatment.
The state government said that it has PCR machines, but they are devoted to the treatment of other major ailments before the outbreak of coronavirus.
Chike said that another set of PCR machines to be devoted to the testing and treatment of Covid-19 is on its way to the state.
He also announced that all public hospitals in different local government areas of the state have Covid-19 centres, developed by the Wike administration.
He said: “They have been developed to hold suspect cases before the intervention of the State Rapid Response Team on COVID-19.”
The state government called on the federal government to take immediate steps to stop oil companies from violating the state Executive Order on restriction of movement.
It also requested the establishment of a functional federal laboratory to handle coronavirus testing.
The government said even though it is in the process of setting up its major laboratory, the strategic place of Rivers State as the nation’s oil and gas hub, requires a federal testing centre.