Edo and the Race against COVID-19

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Godwin Obaseki

With over 150,000 persons screened, four isolation centres established within two months, deployment of Rapid Diagnostic Tests, and establishment of Intensive Care Units, Edo appears to be the new model in the fight against COVID-19, Martins Ifijeh writes

The race to tackling COVID-19 in Nigeria has thrown in several approaches from different leaders in the country, with some diligently following international best practices in the management of the public health challenge, while others, especially in some South-south states, North-central and the far North have proven to become what the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 described as the weak link in the fight against the virus.
Among states that have shown leadership in tackling the scourge is Edo State with its unique approaches and the constant ramping up of capacities to tackle the pandemic.

As at last Wednesday, it has done 150, 000 screening among its residents, tested over 700 persons, established 112 screening centres across the 18 local government areas of the state, established mobile screening centres in all borders of the state, among others.

Sharing his thoughts on this, the Commissioner for Health, Edo State, Dr. Patrick Okundia said in the coming days, the state hopes to do another 200, 000 screening, adding that it targets to do 500,000 within weeks, as this would help in speedily identifying those who may be needing testing.

He said: “Presently, we have done over 700 tests with over a hundred confirmed to be positive. By next week, we hope to have done over 2,500. We have also taken ownership of Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) kits which has enabled us do a high number of tests. Those who meet case definition as advised by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) are tested using the kit, while confirmation is made through Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) based test,’’ adding that this was reflective in the slight rise in confirmed cases seen in the state.

“The key anchors of our response are partnerships, communication and people. As part of measures to address the pandemic in the state, the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki has ensured that manpower was giving priority. We are training, equipping and motivating frontline workers, as well as providing them with insurance and special allowances. We presently have four testing centres, 30 ventilators, 112 screening centres, and scores with inventory of drugs, equipment and palliatives. “

The commissioner said the state was tracing and managing every single case or suspected case, as well as providing treatments, developing and tracking scientific models to aid strategic planning, among others.

He said more than 5,000 persons have been recruited, incentivised and trained to coordinate collection and distribution of samples across the state.
The Chairman, Presidential Task Force onCOVID-19, Boss Mustapha had said if all states put innovative ideas in place, the country, in no time will be able to address the pandemic.

As at Wednesday, Edo State had 119 confirmed cases of the virus, with 35 persons successfully treated and discharged from its isolation centres, six unfortunately lost their lives, while 78 active cases are still being managed.

Okundia said Governor Obaseki was putting measures in place to flatten the curve, adding that in the coming weeks screening capacity will be scaled up to 5, 000, as this would allow for timely identification of those who are infected with the virus and then remove them from the community as part of measures to halt further spread of the virus.

“We have expanded our isolation and treatment capacities to 350 bed spaces. There are plans to increase this capacity as soon as possible. Our isolation centres are the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, (ISTH), Auchi General Hospital, University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) and the Stella Obasanjo Memorial Hospital. We are also setting up new Intensive Care Units; eight bedded ICU in Stella Obasanjo Hospital and four bedded in Edo Specialist Hospital.”

He said the intervention of the state, among other things, involved the distribution of palliatives to vulnerable citizens, improvement in the transportation of samples, materials and supplies, transportation support for frontline workers, improvement in inventory and logistics management, supporting screened individuals with hand sanitisers and face masks, provision of personal protective equipment for health workers, among others.