COVID-19: The State of States’ Response (2)


The first part of this special report, which started last week, dealt with states’ response to the challenge of Covid-19 before and during the period of lockdown, spanning some five weeks. It addressed the situations in 18 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Interestingly, however, this part two, which is intended to clear the rest of the states not covered in the first part – 18 of them – covers the first week of the easing up of the lockdown by the federal government, a situation which appears to have changed the tenor of the game as far as the battle against the spread of Coronavirus is concerned. With the numbers climbing curiously each day of the last one week, the challenge has proven, not only to be formidable and disturbing, but also promising to be around for some reasonable length of time, even as the battle has largely become one of personal responsibility of the citizenry, going forward. With the testing capacity of the country almost incongruous to the numbers being released, the situations in many of the states in the last seven days have also exposed the inanity of leadership at some levels as well as the dangers posed by the seeming non-cooperation of a majority of Nigerians in the battle against Covid-19. This does not preclude from the equation, however, the swirling allegations that the whole process of managing the challenge posed by Covid-19 might have been shrouded in needless secrecy and therefore suspect. As exemplified with the first part of this report last week, the Editors of THISDAY have also rated the remaining 18 states on the strength of their response to Covid-19, their cooperation with federal agencies and committees as well as the challenges militating against a smooth run of the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Plateau: Making the Best of the Circumstances


There are 15 confirmed cases in the over 654 cases tested so far for coronavirus in Plateau State. These 15 cases were said to be in stable conditions, with the index case progressively responding to treatment, and may be discharged soon. No death has been recorded in the state.

Commissioner for Information, Mr. Dan Manjang and his counterpart in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Ndam Lar, attributed the low number of cases in the state to the many steps taken by the state to contain the virus.

The state was among the few to first isolate and quarantine 43 of its citizens in Wase Local Government Area, in the Southern zone of the state, after some Chinese miners returned without subjecting themselves for proper scrutiny before uniting with the people of the community. But after the usual 14 days isolation period, they all tested negative and were set free.

Governor Simon Lalong had quickly gone with his family for a test, which came out negative, and had encouraged citizens to also do the same, as the infection was not a death sentence. He also reeled off restriction measures for citizens to guard themselves against becoming victims.

He had immediately set up a taskforce, comprising stakeholders in the health and other sectors, which he personally chaired, to monitor and ensure enforcement of the restriction order.

He prohibited street trading, street hawking, and begging, and placed ban on all drinking joints, social centres and nightclubs. He also ordered mandatory provision of takeaway packs by restaurants to avoid crowding, and cancelled all festivals, burial and wedding ceremonies and anniversary celebrations, among many others. The state government also advised against unnecessary movement and travels, having ordered closure of all schools from primary to tertiary levels.

To avoid transmission from neighbouring states of Bauchi, Kaduna, and Benue, the governor ordered a total closure of all borders to prevent entry and exit from the state, and also mounted CCTV cameras at the borders to monitor compliance. This was in addition to the fumigation of the entire state, especially, public places, earlier locked down for about three weeks.

There are three isolation centres in Jos and some others across the three senatorial zones in the state. In Jos, The Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH), Bingham University Teaching Hospital (BhUTH), and Plateau Specialist Hospital are the designated centres.
Lalong also influenced the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to establish a testing centre in the state, being the first and probably the only testing centre in the whole of North. Perhaps, the major challenge in the state is in the area of palliative distribution.

EDITOR’S SCOREBOARD: Below Average Leadership


Taraba: Confronted by Poor Contact Tracing


In Taraba State, a total of 134 people have been tested for Covid-19 out of which 15 tested positive. Thirteen of the positive cases were among the 130 travellers from Kano State that were intercepted and quarantined by the Technical Committee on Covid-19 set up by the state government.

So far, the state has not recorded any Covid-19 related death. One of the positive cases that is in a critical condition, is currently undergoing treatment at the State Specialist Hospital, Jalingo, while seven others are being treated at the isolation centre situated at the NYSC permanent Orientation Camp at Sibre, near Jalingo.

Meanwhile, the biggest challenge presently being faced by the Technical Committee is to trace seven people, who were initially discharged but later tested positive for Covid-19.

EDITOR’S SCOREBOARD: Below Average Leadership


Gombe: A Disaster Waiting to Happen

Reporter Segun Awofadeji

In Gombe State, the government claimed its laboratory hasn’t yet been accredited by NCDC. This is as Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya has approved the establishment of a testing centre in the state. Chairman of the Taskforce on Covid-19, Professor Idris Mohammed, who disclosed this at a press briefing, said already, the state has placed order for Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Machines.

Lamenting that there is no covid-19 testing machine in the Northeast region, Mohammed noted that for any suspected case; sample has to be referred to Abuja, Enugu, Edo or Lagos for laboratory analysis.

He said up to 1022 tests have so far been conducted with 103 testing positive. While 19 were responding, according to him, and have turned negative for their first follow-up test, the state hasn’t recorded any death. But the response level from the state is so far good.
Also, in curtailing a further spread of the virus, the state has banned commercial motorcycles, while the tricycle operators are allowed to carry only one adult passenger at a time.

Calls to Muslim prayers are allowed only to notify the faithful of the time for prayers and not to observe congregational prayers in the mosques. Just last week, Gombe become a first state where the COVID-19 patients held a press conference to protest their abandonment.
But there’s poor compliance to some of the measures such as border closure, restrictions, banning of gatherings, social distancing, curfews and use of facemasks. From the compliance point of view Gombe is a disaster waiting to happen.

EDITOR’S SCOREBOARD: Below Average Leadership

Bauchi: In Search of a Test Centre

Reporter Segun Awofadeji

Bauchi State does not have a testing laboratory for now, but all samples are taken to Abuja. But the Deputy Governor, Senator Baba Tela, said the state would soon get a testing center for to ensure prompt and timely testing of patients infected with the virus.
Tela who is Chairman of the State Rapid Response Taskforce on COVID-19 and Lassa fever, said “This development can reduce the difficulties we usually faced before accessing tests to coronavirus in Abuja. If this was actualised, we can conduct our tests in Bauchi easily without any hitches.”

THISDAY checks also revealed that a total of 688 have been tested, 842 samples collected, 791 sent to the laboratory while 103 pending
Reports also indicated that total confirmed positive cases are 80, with 73 still active.

Regardless, the state is doing everything possible to curtail the spread of the infection. There’s a Taskforce in place, partial lockdown, vigorous sensitisation and surveillance activities.

Executive Chairman of Bauchi State Primary Health Care Development Agency (BASPHCDA), Dr. Rilwanu Mohammed, said the State was not resting on its oars in ensuring that the infection did not spread beyond what it is now and advised the people to continue to adhere strictly to all the prescribed public health protocols put in place by the government.



Enugu: Effectively Arresting the Situation

Reporter Christopher Isiguzo

At the moment, a total of eight cases of Covid-19 have been recorded in Enugu State since the outbreak of the pandemic in February this year. Of the eight, there are six active cases, while two patients had been discharged after testing negative twice.

Since the outbreak, Enugu state government has continued to demonstrate its determination to contain the rampaging virus in the state. To demonstrate that commitment, the government has earmarked the sum of N320 million to take care of the business.

The government has also approved the immediate upgrade and relocation of the state Isolation Centre to ESUT Teaching Hospital, Parklane, Enugu since the existing structure at Colliery hospital lacks the necessary facilities as recommended by NCDC.

Apart from the Parklane hospital, the state also designated its Ultra-modern Diagnostic Centre, GRA as well as the Nsukka General hospital as Isolation Centres. These Centres are equipped with the state-of-the-art facilities to control the virus.

The state has also given approval for the procurement of more personal protective equipment, sanitizers, masks, respirators and all that are needed to help the physicians manage their patients, have also been made possible by the state government.
The state not only approved N100 million to be kept in the Emergency Operation Centre account, in case of any emergency, it has also created Toll free lines 117 and 112 as well as a dedicated line for emergency response: 08182555550.

As incentives, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has approved the payment of weekly allowances to about 124 health workers directly involved in the handling of Covid-19 patients. This is apart from a 25 per cent increase in the salaries of health workers in the state.

However, there’s no testing facility in the state at the moment as the only one serving the entire south-east zone is domiciled in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, making it impossible to test as many people as possible in the zone. But the governor, who has locked down the state to ensure that travelers from other states do not bring the virus to the state, has spent many nights at the state borders.
Apart from adopting the compulsory use of facemasks as part of the containment measures, the government had also met with authorities of the state’s main market, including the Enugu North local government authority and security agencies, where they decided days and time that the market would open.



Ebonyi: Ready for the Worst Case Scenarios

Reporter Benjamin Nworie

Despite courting avoidable controversies lately, the Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi, is ready for worst-case scenario with the full service of the National Virology center, which his administration built. The Virology center has become more useful for sample test of the coronavirus other than the Lassa fever, which necessitated the project.

So far, Ebonyi has recorded five confirmed cases of COVID-19. The cases are currently being handled at the State isolation center for medical treatment. Though Umahi was the first governor in the Southeast to take proactive steps to contain the spread of the virus in state by shutting down churches, borders, and other public facilities, the first case was recorded about three weeks ago.
To ensure a total lockdown of borders, holding centers have been decentralised to all the 64 development centers. The idea is that anybody who sneaks into any of the communities will be arrested by the villagers and handed over to the COVID-19 taskforce for medical examination, after which they will be freed after fourteen days if tested negative.

In compliance with the random testing directive of the state government, about 493 persons have been tested across the state while over 700 returnees have been held at the holding center.



Kogi: Challenged by Dishonesty and Incompetence

Reporter Christopher Isiguzo

The situation in Kogi State is a complicated one. While it continues to boast as one of the two states with no index case, there have been reported cases of deaths traceable to the virus.
The state claimed to have made adequate preparations to contain the spread of the virus, yet, not enough is on the ground to corroborate this assertion. Besides, the state is also said not to have cooperated with the federal agents that were in a position to assist, thus fuelling a lot of insinuations about his motives.

Although the Commissioner for Health, Dr Saka Audu Haruna, confirmed that there was no case yet and urged the people not to panic, because the government was on top of the situation, reports by independent findings have proved otherwise.
But Haruna has urged residents to adhere strictly to all instructions for prevention of the Coronavirus and keep personal hygiene always. This nonetheless, the state has closed schools from primary to the higher institutions, imposed restrictions on movements across the state, banned commercial motorcycle and tricycle operators, in order to contain the spread.



Ondo: Grappling With Low Testing Capacity

Reporter James Sowole

Ondo State Commissioner for Health and Chairman of the Interministerial Committee on COVID-19, Dr. Wahab Adegbenro said over 246 persons have been tested in the state. Of the number tested, 13 tested positive and had been admitted at the Infectious Diseases Hospital (IDH) Akure.
However, in line with the NCDC protocols, six patients had been treated and discharged, Adegbenro said, adding that the remaining seven patients were very stable and responding to treatment.
So far, no death has been recorded, Adegbenro said, noting that testing everybody along the streets was not feasible. According to him, that somebody had tested negative today does not mean that the person cannot test positive later if he or she is exposed to the virus.
The challenges, he claimed, were the non-cooperation of the people as they still go about as though everything is normal. The commissioner said many people do not take precautionary measures against the spread of the virus, as they don’t maintain the required physical distance and that in spite of boundary closure, some people still sneak into the state.

EDITOR’S SCOREBOARD: Average Leadership


Bayelsa: Micro-managing the Situation

Reporter Onungwe Obe

The five confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Bayelsa State are still being treated at the Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital Isolation centre, Okolobiri. But the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Inodu Apoku, said the cases were doing well and might soon be discharged.

The index case, a 49-year-old hypertensive and diabetic woman, had gone to the hospital to complain of non-productive cough, headache, fever and chest pain. Her sample was taken and sent to the testing centre at Irrua, Edo State and the result came back positive. This necessitated the testing of her family members and hospital staff that attended to her in the hospital. Four members of her family also came out positive and were taken into isolation too.
Sadly, Bayelsa does not have a testing centre. It only has collection centres and two isolation centres for the treatment of Covid-19 patients at NDUTH, and the newly converted 80-bed mother-and-child referral hospital built by Chevron Nigeria Limited at the Bayelsa Medical University, Yenagoa.

There is no confirmed record of the total number of people that have been tested. But the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Inodu Apoku, confirmed that the state had collection centres, which have been taking samples from suspected cases for testing.
Among those that have been tested is Governor Douye Diri, who tested negative after attending a meeting of the National Economic Council. The state government is containing the spread of the pandemic by closing the state borders, prohibiting large gatherings and enforcing the 8pm – 6am of the nationwide curfew.



Akwa Ibom: Poised to Tame the Menace

Reporter Okon Bassey

With two deaths and six active cases, Akwa Ibom State is now on the national chart as one of the states with the Covid-19 disease. To check the spread of the dreaded COVID-19 in the State, Governor Udom Emmanuel, signed into operations, the quarantine and restriction movement regulations 2020.

The new law, which came into effect March 30, 2020, was in view of the serious and imminent threat of the disease to Public Health. In the last laboratory test conducted on 44 suspected cases, three persons were confirmed positive, while one person died, bringing to two the number of deaths recorded in the state.

In a move to contain the fears generated by coronavirus pandemic, the state government immediately ordered the state owned aircraft, Ibom Air to suspend operation till further notice.

A total lockdown in the state was announced and embargoed on passenger traffic as well as ban on interstate transport services with severe penalty, including 14 days in detention for defaulter and screening at various boarder of entry to the state. Infectious Disease Prevention and Control Task Force was immediately set up and awareness, through the media, by way of jingles on COVID-19 infection in English, pidgin and local dialects created.

A 300-bed isolation centre is being set up in Itu Mbang General Hospital, some kilometres from Uyo, the state capital, to complement the existing isolation centres at the IDH Ikot Ekpene and Ibom Specialist Hospital, Uyo. Also, Primary Health Centres in the state received Personal Protective Equipment from the government.

Above all, the governor said the state has some 407 medical doctors and 2000 nurses to help fight the pandemic. The initial constraints of the state government were lack of the much-needed cooperation from the conglomerate of health professionals in the state and poor information management on the covid-19.

EDITOR’S SCOREBOARD: Average Leadership


Imo: Overwhelmed by Leadership Demands

Reporter Amby Uneze

For the past six weeks, Imo state had remained under lockdown in an effort by government to keep the coronavirus (covid-19) at bay, but in spite of all the measures to keep Imo out of the pandemic, the state has recorded two active cases recently. Yet, the government, last week relaxed the lockdown while still retaining the 6pm to 6am curfew.

Though the two cases have remained a speculation as nobody, including Governor Hope Uzodimma or the State Taskforce on Covid-19 team led by Prof. Maurice Iwu, could confirm the status of the patients.

As every information connecting to the cases are hidden from the public and the press, this had created panic among the public and ignited much apprehension and controversy on the reality of the patients and government’s commitment to put the pandemic at bay.
The isolation centres so far created by government had remained under-utilized, because there are no testing kits in the state. Again, the community tracking and testing of potential carriers are non-existent, creating doubt that Imo can be completely free from the pandemic since nobody had been tested.

The palliative meant for the vulnerable and less-privileged people are scantly distributed among few individuals.
Importantly, however, the two cases so far recorded, according to NCDC, were sourced from the Government House, Owerri by aides to the state governor.

EDITOR’S SCOREBOARD: Average Leadership

Delta: The Difference is the Professional

Reporter Omon-Julius Onabu

Delta State has not been caught napping in the battle against Covid-19 as the state government took proactive steps to effectively contain the disease long before it recorded its first index case.

Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, a medical doctor, as one accustomed to instinctive response to even the most challenging of emergencies, had promptly set up a response team, comprising state health ministry officials and the state coordinator of the NCDC, headed by the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Mordi Ononye.

The six isolation centres, which were later increased to 12, were promptly created across the state within 24 hours, after the federal government announced the fist case in Nigeria involving an Italian in Lagos in February.

Four isolation centres were subsequently created at FMC Asaba, Central Hospital Asaba, Central Hospital Warri and DELSUTH Oghara. Aside the state-of-the-art medical and communicable disease-control facilities and personal protection equipment (PPE), 20 ventilators were dedicated to the management centres. Various special duty allowances had also been announced for the medical and health workers.
At the last count on 7th May, Delta State had recorded 17 confirmed cases in six of the 25 local government areas, since the index case on April 7, 2020 including 11 active, three discharged and three deaths.

Two of the patients had died before results confirming their COVID-19 status were received. Nonetheless, Okowa assured the people last week that the scores of contacts with the confirmed cases had been successfully traced, quarantined and tested.

Two weeks ago, the government launched a COVID-19 Testing Laboratory at the Central Hospital, Asaba, through collaboration with the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital in Edo State, where samples of suspected cases had hitherto been taken, thus scaling up the testing capacity.
While launching free facemasks with the first one million pieces produced by graduates of its entrepreneurship scheme, Governor Okowa also ordered the closure of its borders with other states on 28th March, prior to the total lockdown of the state from 1st April to 14th April, extended by another two weeks before it was later relaxed.

However, despite the arrest and conviction of over 200 violators including security operatives, getting maximum public compliance with the stay-at-home order, restrictions on movement as well as social distancing at public places, markets and worship centres have been a major challenge. From the technical perspective, the apparent reluctance of some private medical facilities to make early referrals has constituted another challenge. Nevertheless, Delta is certainly enjoying the advantage of having a seasoned medical doctor as Governor.

EDITOR’S SCOREBOARD: Excellent Leadership


Jigawa: Struggling Amid Rising Figure

Reporter Ibrahim Shuaibu in Dutse

The Jigawa State recently recorded 32 new cases of coronavirus and now has confirmed 41 cases even as the figure increases daily. Last Tuesday, there was a rise in the transmission of the virus at the community level in the state.
The state also recorded unexplained deaths of people in recent days. The state government said the 32 new cases were not from the Almajiris, who returned to the state, but of community transmissions from the cases recorded.

Governor Badaru Abubakar said some of the people still see coronavirus as something that was not true, adding that if the people didn’t take it seriously, “we are endangering the lives of many, especially the aged with underlying medical conditions.”

Out of the 57 samples taken from contacts of the initial five infected persons in the state, 32 returned positive. In Dutse, contact tracing of only two patients resulted in 23 infected persons. With 32 new cases in the state, the state is itching to take samples of approximately 300 contacts, which might result in 100 more confirmed cases.
Of the new cases, 23 were from Dutse, 2 in Gwaram, 3 in Birnin-Kudu, 1 in Kazaure, 2 in Taura and 1 in Miga.

EDITOR’S SCOREBOARD: Average Leadership


Borno: Rising to the Challenges

Reporter Michael Olugbode

Borno State was lucky to have a major health facility all thanks to the federal University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital, which has all it takes to test Covid-19. The testing capacity presently is about 100 per day but there are plans to upgrade to 500.
As at Friday, 125 positive cases had been recorded, with active cases standing at 111 and death at 14. Two patients have however recovered. There are two isolation centres in the state capital, Maiduguri with a capacity of 130 beds. This, the state is planning to also upgrade to 500.
The government is presently building an isolation centre in Biu and the upgrading of a facility donated by an individual in Marama is ongoing.

One of the major challenges is the belief by the people that there is nothing like COVID-19 even with the state presently ranking 4th in the nation. Truth is that the state too never helped in this regards as the death of prominent indigenes of the state due to the ailment were kept secret and the people continued to live in denial.

From the little that could be said of the fight against the pandemic, the contact tracing has not been optimal. How else could contacts be traced, when the government was not really transparent with its management of the situation?
With the relaxation of the lockdown, the number has continued to grow. Besides, the communal way of living of the people is another challenge to social and physical distancing. From all indications, it will prayer and miracle for the state to stabilize.



Yobe: An Aggressive Race against Time

Reporter Michael Olugbode

Yobe State is one of the last to register cases of Covid-19, but as at today, it has 13 positive cases and has recorded one death so far. He was a director in the state ministry of health, who died while awaiting the result of his sample sent for test.
The state has three isolation centres equipped with ventilators and other necessary equipment, but still has to send specimens to neighbouring Borno State for test.

There was however an alarming news, which came from the state in the course of the week that over 155 people died mysteriously within six days, a report which the state government classified as rumour and still investigating.

The state is yet to be on total lockdown but strict measures have been taken, including curfew and movement into or out of the state.
The challenges remain, the economy of the people, which makes it difficult to lockdown the state. Also, the understanding of COVID-19 seems limited with many believing that it was made up. This development has forced the state to educate traditional rulers and sensitise them to in turn, enlighten their people.

EDITOR’S SCOREBOARD: Average Leadership


Rivers: A Pandemic Mired in Politics

Reporter Ernest Chinwo

As at Friday, May 8, although the number of persons so far tested are not yet available, Rivers State has recorded 17 confirmed positive cases of Coronavirus, out which two have been managed and discharged; two fatalities and 13 active. Also, as at Friday, more victims had tested negative for the second time and were waiting to be discharged.

The state has however installed three PCR testing machines at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Port Harcourt by Friday and the equipment were undergoing test-run as at the weekend. The machines were donated by private corporate organisations.
The two local government areas that make up the Port Harcourt metropolis: Port Harcourt City and Obio/Akpor, are currently under complete 24-hour lockdown ordered by the State Government in its bid to stem the spread of the pandemic in the state.

Other parts of the state are also on varying degrees of restrictions as hotels, restaurants, markets and others remain closed while religious gatherings are also under strict checks.

The state government has lamented neglect by the federal government, which they said had not provided the state with any facilities or assistance in the fight to check the spread of the pandemic in the state.
Governor Nyesom Wike of the state has also accused agencies controlled by the federal government, especially the police, of not effectively implementing the lockdown of the state borders. He also claimed that the federal government compromised the border security of the state by granting waivers to companies, especially, oil and gas companies, without informing the state. Wike said some of the cases recorded in the state were oil workers smuggled into the state by oil companies with waivers granted by the federal government.

EDITOR’S SCOREBOARD: Average Leadership


Kebbi: Tackling the Pandemic Headlong

Reporter Onuminya Innocent

In Kebbi State, the state medical response team has been on ground even before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Commissioner for Health, Dr. Muhammad Jarfar, disclosed this recently in Birnin Kebbi, the state capital, adding, “we did not wait for the outbreak before inaugurating our response team”. However, as part of measures taken to contain the spread of the virus, the state created a medical outpost at the border towns to screen any traveler coming into the state if the journey was important.

The state also created infection centres in all the 21 general hospitals, where it quarantines suspected cases before transferring such to the designated isolation centre at the Kebbi medical centre for further treatment.

At medical centre is a 300-bed space, even though the state is preparing to create more isolation centres in all the three senatorial districts so it could accommodate more patients. Already, the state is planning to engage the service of retired medical personnel in case there’s an explosion of the virus. These feats, the commissioner said has become practicable, given the unflinching support of Governor Atiku Bagudu of the state.
Thus, currently, the state has recorded 18 confirmed cases with 3 deaths.



Zamfara: Taking the Bull by the Horn

Reporter Onuminya Innocent

The Zamfara State Government is not lagging behind in the fight against Covid-19 as it has continued to put measures in place to contain its spread.
Commissioner for Health, Dr. Yahaya Muhammad, who is a member of Covid-19 Task Force Committee set up by Governor Bello Mutawalle, informed that the state had three isolation centres to treat confirmed cases of coronavirus.

The state has acquired ventilators as well as PPE for medical personnel who are in front line of the battle. This is in addition to hundreds of thousands of facemasks, which the state procured and distributed to the residents.

Some of the measures so far taken included, preventing inter-border travelers from entering the state, while all markets in the state are presently shut down except for the food markets.

There’s also curfew from 8pm to 6am as declared by President Muhammadu Buhari, which the state has been enforcing. Regardless, the state has so far has recorded 66 confirmed cases with 3 deaths.

EDITOR’S SCOREBOARD: Average Leadership

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