Covid-19: Rivers State Govt’s press briefing; May 1,2020

By tataafo.com

HIS EXCELLENCY GOVERNOR NYESOM EZENWO WIKE’S COVID-19 PRESS BRIEFING ON FRIDAY MAY 1, 2020

Protocols,

Thank you and good morning.

Today I’d like to provide our people with an update on the ongoing efforts to contain the transmission of COVID-19 in Rivers State.2. We are in a battle with a dreaded and invisible disease, and as a State Government, we are doing everything within our powers, sparing no efforts to contain this enemy and save the lives of our people.

  1. It is therefore important for me to start by expressing our gratitude for everyone that we have engaged in this battle, and most especially, our healthcare workers, who are on the frontlines, working night and day, every day of the week to prevent the mass transmission of this virus in our State. You are all our heroes for your personal and collective sacrifice when it mattered most in the lives of our people.
  2. Let me also appreciate the various support groups, including the State Inter-ministerial Taskforce on COVID-19, the State Task-force on the distribution of Palliatives, its counterpart on Food Procurement, as well as our public-spirited donors and the media practitioners for your invaluable efforts and contributions to this decisive fight against COVID-19.
  3. Since the manifest importation of COVID-19 virus into our country by the index case, we have taken several measures, including legal, policy and material, to enable us combat, contain and limit the transmission of COVID-19 in Rivers State.
  4. Our strategy, from the very beginning, was to contain, prevent or minimize the spread of the disease and save the lives of our people. And so far, we are achieving these objectives significantly.
  5. On the 19th of March, 2020, we issued the Declaration, which classified COVID-19 as a dangerous infectious disease, as well as the Quarantine (Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Other Infectious Disease Regulations 2020, and Executive Order No. RVSG-01, 2020 to provide the legal framework for any and all actions required of the State Government under the Quarantine Act to combat the spread of the disease in the State.
  6. On the 22nd of March 2020, the State Executive Council mandated the COVID-19 Committee to create mass awareness about the disease and issue necessary advisories to avoid infections and transmission among our people. This Committee immediately swung into action and has since done a lot to sensitization make everyone to be aware of this disease and the measures to prevent infection and spread.
  7. With the legal framework established, we immediately proceeded to initiate proactive measures targeted at preventing and or protecting the State and residents from contacting or spreading of COVID-19.
  8. On Tuesday 23rd of March 2020, we placed a ban all forms of open religious worship, crusades, vigils, public burials and weddings and closed all public parks, night clubs, cinemas and related outfits.
  9. On Friday 26th March 2020, we stepped up our preventive measures by closing all schools and institutions of learning, the State’s land and sea borders as well as all flights out of or into Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa and the Airforce Base, Port Harcourt. We also set up surveillance posts at all land and sea entry routes into the State.
  10. On 20th April 2020, we executed two additional legal instruments, namely: (i) the Quarantine (Coronavirus) {COVID-19} and Other Infectious Diseases) Regulations (No.2) 2020 and (ii) the Executive order RVSG-03 2020 to strengthen the legal framework for the battle against the spread of COVID-19 in the State with the provision of non-custodial penalties for the violation of extant regulations and the Coronavirus Prevention Border Task Force to enforce the ban on the exit and entry of persons from our borders.
  11. Following the failure to comply with our preventive directives and advisories on large gathering and social distancing, we were constrained to place some parts of Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas, including Obiri-Ikwerre junction, (Ozuoba, Rumualogu) to Choba, and from Education Bus stop to Agip Junction, Ikwerre road, under total lockdown.
  12. Presently, Elekahia, including the entire stretch of Rumukalagbor – Elekahia link road, Rumuomasi, including stadium road, and Rumuobiokani are under 24 hours lockdown until further notice.
  13. In terms of material and other resources, the State Government have:

• trained over 200 surveillance and ad-hoc personnel;

• established holding and treatment Centres at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospitals as well as the General Hospital Nchia, Eleme;

• trained health workers both in the private and public sectors on infection control measures and appropriate use of personal protective equipment (PPE);

• provided PPE’s for all our health workers directly involved in the fight against COVID-19 and sanitizers and infrared thermometers for us at all public offices;

• established the Rivers State Task Force on Border Closure;

• received 250-bed isolation and treatment tent located at the General Yakubu Gowon Stadium donated by the private-sector led initiative on COVID-19;

• received one GeneXpert RT-PCR testing machine from TOTAL E & P, which is ready to be used and will be deployed any moment we get the necessary reagents;

• procured some ventilators as well as received some others from some private sector donors;

• successfully prosecuted several violators of our orders and secured 188 convictions so far; and

• arrested 45 persons illegally operating night markets in Rumuokoro, Elimgbu and Rumuokurushi communities.

The state of COVID-19 transmission in Rivers State

  1. As at today 1st May 2020, Rivers State has recorded 13 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infections, 4 females and 9 males. Out of this number, 2 have recovered and discharged, 9 are active and receiving medical attention in our treatment centre, while unfortunately, 2 lost their lives because of COVID-19.
  2. Recall that we had the first and second cases of coronavirus infections in the State in late March 2020. But it is significant to note that the third case was recorded after a lull of about one-month interval.
  3. Furthermore, apart from the sixth case who has no travel history, the rest were returnees to the State from Italy, United Kingdom, and Lagos or persons who had close contacts with already affected persons.
  4. Indeed, five of the most recent cases are all children and a relative of the second death case.
  5. The logical conclusion therefore, is that the pattern of transmission of COVID-19 in the State is evidentially predicated on importation from outside, just as the rate of infection and progression is also relatively low and arithmetical, when considered from the date of the index case.
  6. Generally, we believe that unless there is a sudden and vertical slide into community transmission, we expect our COVID-19 infection and prevalent rate to continue along this low trajectory.
  7. This gives us the assurance that our hard work is paying off and Rivers State is certainly not in any dangerous position when compared to the situation in most other States, and we will never be by God’s special grace.
  8. This is not to say that we are at the peak of this crisis and that everything about the containment and transmission of COVID-19 is under control. No; we are not, because of the challenges occasioned primarily by the negative elements that continue to deliberately undermine and sabotage our efforts to protect our people from this disease.
  9. For instance, the 7th infected case was an offshore oil and gas worker who went and passed a night in a Lagos hotel before returning to Port Harcourt on the 9th of April 2020 with the aid of the security personnel manning our borders. When his symptoms started, he was admitted to a private hospital, (St. Martin’s Hospital) on the 20th and discharged on the 21st of April 2020 before testing positive to the virus after almost over two weeks of close contacts with other people.
  10. Had the security agencies not compromised their responsibility at the borders, this man would have been prevented from coming into Port Harcourt and threaten the lives of other people with this virus.
  11. Again, on the 29th of April 2020, our surveillance team picked up two men from Niger Republic, who came into the State from Lagos with the help of security personnel despite the closure of the entry routes into the State.
  12. And so, so long as security personnel continue to allow people with this virus into the State through the closed borders without first ensuring that they are quarantined and their infection status determined, so long shall our State and our people will be exposed to the threat of contracting COVID-19.
  13. In addition, we are virtually fighting this battle without any tangible material support from the Federal Government. We are wondering as most of you may also be, that up till now the NCDC has not established any testing center in the State in spite of our position, huge socio-economic and demographic mix and high transmission threat hanging over us as a result. Was this deliberate? If not so, why and what was the justification for this dangerous neglect, which is obviously limiting our capacity to expand testing for this virus in the State.
  14. But, for us as a Government, every single new infection of COVID-19 in our State is one too many. We shall therefore continue to take every necessary measure to control and possibly end the transmission of this disease in Rivers State in spite of the enormous challenges and lack of concrete support from the Federal Government.
  15. It is for the very reason that we have taken our fate in our own hands with the establishment of the Border security task force, which has been mandated to provide and ensure a water-tight situation in all our entry and exit points and prevent any unauthorized entry and or exit of persons and vehicles into the State during the period of the closure.
  16. These are all Rivers sons and we expect them to protect the interest of the State at all cost, and not compromise and risk the health and survival of our people in exchange for some filthy naira notes.
  17. We also expect and request the security agencies to cooperate with the taskforce and fully enforce not only our order on the closure of our borders, but also Mr. President’s directive on the ban on inter-state travels from next Monday, 4th May 2020.

Procurement/distribution of food items to vulnerable households

  1. On the 26 of April 2020, I announced the provision of 2 billion naira by the State Government for the procurement of food items from local farmers for distribution to vulnerable households across the State.
  2. We also established a credible Committee, headed by Ambassador Desmond Akawor to undertake the thankless job of distributing the procured food stuffs and ensure they get to the targeted groups.
  3. Reports reaching us from independent monitors indicate that, so far, both Committees are creditably executing their respective mandate in spite of the difficult logistical challenge that is involved.
  4. As a matter of fact, the Procurement Committee has so far purchased and delivered to our ware houses local food items, including garri, yam, beans, fish, palm oil, plantain, tomatoes and onions worth over 590 million naira.
  5. Similarly, the Food Distribution Committee has successfully distributed food packages to vulnerable households in 16 Local Government Areas, namely: Obio/Akpor, Port Harcourt, Ikwerre, Eleme, Omuma, Bonny, Opobo/Nkoro, Tai, Okrika, Etche, Akuku Toru, Asari Toru, Oyigbo, Gokana, Khana, and Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni.
  6. The Committee will ensure that vulnerable households in the remaining seven Local Government Areas also receive their food packages before the end of next week.
  7. The Committee has also received donation of food items from a number of individuals and corporate bodies, which it is distributing to the needy among us.
  8. Details of the list of food donors and what was donated shall be published in the national dailies in due course as a measure of public appreciation for their kind gestures. This applies also to those who have made cash donations to the State Government’s effort at combatting the coronavirus.

40 Let me assure our people that the delivery of palliatives and other relief measures to vulnerable households is a continuous exercise and the State Government will continue to provide funding for this purpose.

Conclusion

  1. While we are not under any illusion about the presence of the risk of this virus in our midst, we are making tremendous progress that clearly underscores our belief that our aggressive strategy and targeted measures have been effective in curbing the spread seeing COVID-19 in our State.
  2. Accordingly, the directives and restrictions we have put in place to maintain social distancing must continue and all residents are advised to strictly follow and comply in the interest of the health and lives of everybody.
  3. In addition, the wearing of face mask in all public places is now compulsory throughout the State.
  4. We understand the pain on our people but this is inevitable under the present situation in order for us to make the gain of freeing our State and our people from the ravaging pandemic.
  5. The State’s Security Council will meet in the next 48 hours to consider and approve necessary mitigating measures for commuters, including the deployment of Government buses to shuttle designated public routes free of charge during the period of the ban on commercial transport operations.
  6. Finally, community leaders and residents in Rumuokoro, Elimgbu and Rumuokurushi are hereby warned for the last time to either comply with our directives on social distancing and desist all business activities, including night markets or risk a total lockdown in these areas and the permanent closure of the Rumuokoro (Oil mill) market
  7. While we agree with Mr. President’s decision to gradually re-open the country for business, we shall be guided by the peculiarities of our State on when to relax the measures we have put in place and gradually restore business activities to the State.
  8. Until then, I wish to restate that we love all residents of Rivers State. Please maintain social distancing, stay at home, wear face mask in public places and stay safe.
  9. Thank you and may God bless us all.

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