Following the rising cases of coronavirus in Ebonyi State, the Deputy Governor, Dr. Kelechi Igwe, yesterday directed all heath workers to undergo compulsory COVID-19 test with immediate effect.
Governor David Umahi and some of his aides, who tested positive for the pandemic, had been quarantined, a development that generated heated argument and anxiety among the people of the state.
The directive came shortly after his meeting with front line health workers at the old Government House, Abakaliki
Igwe said the directive becomes imperative “because we want to ensure that the health workers are free from the virus before treating people,” noting that some health workers had tested positive for COVID-19 in recent times.
He pointed out that Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) had commenced one-hour prayers on daily basis to seek the face of God for quick recovery of those who had been infected by the coronavirus, especially Governor Umahi.
He urged council chairmen to take charge of the campaign against the virus in their council areas and ensure deployment of all health workers to participate in the house-to-house exercise.
Igwe assured that the state’s task force would not relent in combating the COVID-19 pandemic, even as Governor Umahi had gone temporarily on isolation.
Commissioner for Health, Dr. Daniel Umezurike, explained that the planned house-to-house active case search was as a result of community transmission, adding that one general hospital had been upgraded in each of the three senatorial zones to serve as screening centers where samples would be collected for testing.
“If anyone tests positive, he or she will be taken to treatment, while those who test negative, but have other pathologies, will be treated at the general hospital where they were received,” he added
The COVID-19 pandemic has killed three persons and infected 24 health workers in Ebonyi. The new deaths bring to five the casualty figure in the state. The Commissioner for Health, Dr. Daniel Umezurike, who made the announcement yesterday in Abakaliki, said of the latest bereavements, one of them was a retired permanent secretary from the central senatorial district of the state.
He regretted that the confirmed cases had increased to 503, while 357 of the patients had been discharged. The commissioner added that 3,369 samples had been tested.
The governor broke the news in a statement he personally signed on Saturday.
The statement said the result of the test conducted by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) came back positive.
Some aides of Umahi also tested positive.
The governor has directed Kelechi Igwe, his deputy, to take over the frontline coordination of the state’s fight against the pandemic.
Umahi, who said he is not showing any symptom at the moment, appealed to the people of Ebonyi to take the NCDC protocols more seriously.
He said, for now, he would work from home and conduct all meetings virtually.
According to the NCDC, Ebonyi has recorded at least 438 cases of the virus, as of Friday evening.
Also, about 357 persons have been successfully treated and discharged while three have died.
After sending his samples for test, Umahi had said his deputy would coordinate the fight against COVID-19 if his result came back positive.
“If I test positive, my deputy will carry on with the fight as a frontline worker, but we will be extremely careful and use zoom to do our jobs. No retreat, no surrender! We will fight this COVID-19 matter to the end,” he had told cabinet members in Abakaliki, the state capital.
“We will have the public hearing on our proposed plan of the COVID-19 fight next week and either I or my deputy will head the meeting, and I will contribute through zoom if I test positive.”
The Governor of Ebonyi State, Chief David Umahi at the weekend directed the immediate seal of a private hospital which allegedly treated a dead COVID-19 patient in the state.
The Governor also ordered the prosecution of the management of the facility. Umahi made this known in a statement signed and forwarded to DAILY POST by his special assistant on media Mr. Francis Nweze’
The governor issued the directive shortly after interacting with the Nigeria Centre for disease control team who paid him a courtesy visit at the new government Lodge.
According to him “His Excellency directed that the COVID-19 reports in Ebonyi State henceforth be made daily and should not be aggregated again. “Separate reports, if it is ten in a day, report the breakdown before aggregating them.”
The Governor noted further the false news emanating from some quarters, alleging that the COVID-19 death recorded in Ebonyi is from the Judiciary, explaining that nobody died in the Judiciary and such wrong information should be corrected and ignored.
“The plan of the state government to build two new testing centers at Onicha and Ishielu Council Areas, which will now make all the 3 Senatorial Zones in the state have a centre each, thereby, making testing of suspected cases easier and faster across the state.
Umahi directed the immediate seal of the hospital where the COVID-19 death occurred and for the immediately revoke their Certificate of Occupancy.
He said such hospitals should be prosecuted under the Ebonyi State Coronavirus and other Infectious Diseases and Related Matters Law 2020, to serve as a deterrent to other hospitals that may attempt managing COVID-19 patient without following NCDC protocols.
The governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi, on Friday ordered the immediate shutdown of all judiciary buildings in the state. He said they are to remain shut for the next 10 days to enable health workers to fumigate the buildings and premises. The governor gave the directive in a broadcast to residents. He also ordered that all staff of the Judiciary in the state and their families should immediately proceed for COVID-19 test.
Mr Umahi announced that the state has recorded its first COVID-19 death, which he described as regrettable and saddening.
“It is unfortunate that we have recorded one death due to this Covid-19 and it makes me so sad,” he said.
“I am directing that in line with the COVID-19 law all the courts in Ebonyi State be shut down for the next 10 days. The Judiciary, State High Court, Industrial Court, Federal High Court, Magistrate court should all be shut down.
“Also, I advise all the Judiciary officers and their families to undergo COVID-19 tests. I have ordered that all the Judiciary buildings and premises should be immediately fumigated within the 10 days.”
The governor advised marketers and churches to take the COVID-19 safety protocols seriously for their own good. He regretted that people are not taking the pandemic seriously as they ought to and warned that any church or market found flouting the COVID-19 law will be shut.
“We are not contemplating closing markets and churches but we advise them to please take this matter serious(ly). If you are working, ensure that you sanitise yourself every 10 minutes.
“This is very serious,” he said, adding that there is a spike because of the higher number of tests being done. “People may have the COVID-19 but won’t show any symptoms but will go about spreading it.
“Some people with the virus will argue that they are not showing any symptoms. Yes, your immune system is fighting it but the next person that may be weaker than you is at danger and our job is to protect everybody in Ebonyi.”
Governor Umahi regretted that the state has recorded some other deaths due to lack of attention to other ailments by medical workers.
“There are some other deaths that are not connected with COVID-19. I want to plead with our hospitals to please isolate any COVID-19 suspected case to our isolation centres so that our people who are sick can get treatment”.
“People are dying because they can no longer get medical treatment. All our attention (is) being diverted to COVID-19 treatment. Sometimes people are afraid to go to the hospital because they are afraid they might contract COVID-19 and because they are not sure how the hospitals will handle them. I appeal that people should be allowed to get their normal medical treatment to save lives”.
The governor said the two isolation centres at Unity Square Abakaliki and the Alex Ekwueme Federal University Teaching Hospital are already filled up with patients.
“Fortunately, we had envisaged this and quickly moved to renovate the Elinwovbu General Hospital. The hospital with 150-bed capacity has been upgraded to a COVID-19 isolation centre with all the necessary facilities.”
He said more general hospitals will be converted to isolation centres as his administration is determined to do all within his powers to protect the lives of the people from the deadly pandemic.
Mr Umahi pledged to continue supporting health workers who are at the frontlines of the fight against the virus in the state. The state, according to latest data from the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), has recorded 234 confirmed cases
Gov. David Umahi of Ebonyi has expressed great worry about the astronomical rise of COVID-19 cases in the state, describing it as ‘shocking and disturbing’. Umahi made the remark on Monday during a news briefing after an emergency meeting with the Ebonyi COVID-19 response team and relevant stakeholders. He stressed that all the cases were from returnees intercepted at the state’s various boundaries.
The governor said that between April 26, and May 20, the state had 13 confirmed cases of the disease but nine new cases were recorded on May 22, another nine on May 23 and two on May 24. “We presently have 33 confirmed cases with six victims discharged and it should be noted that there is no community infection yet in the state. “A breakdown of the cases shows that Afikpo North LGA has nine cases, Izzi – eight, Ishielu – six, Ikwo – four, Ohaukwu – two, Ohaozara – two, Onicha and Ezza North one each,” he said. Umahi added that the state could not have recorded such upsurge in the cases if the various inter-state boundary lockdowns were working. “Another problem is that we are ‘holding these returnees down’ at the various centers in our LGAs yet we have issues with test kits from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
“You can’t hold people down above 14 days without testing and the Federal Government (FG) should do something about this urgently. “These people can’t go to their houses to isolate because some people stay up to five in a room in the rural areas. “We can’t do anything even if they are kept at the centers for 21 days so there should be enough kits to appropriately follow NCDC guidelines,” he said.
The governor declared that the state-floated security outfit, ‘Neighborhood Security Watch’, would be disbanded from June 1, due to the ineffectiveness of its members. “Chairmen of various LGAs should strive to pay the members’ May salaries and we have authorized traditional rulers and other stakeholders to recommend 100 persons from various communities to be recruited in the new outfit. “Their salaries will be N30,000 monthly and they will secure the 50 boundaries of the state alongside the various security outfits. “We would no longer pay the allowances of security officers at the boundaries through their various heads, but through the monitoring team to be inaugurated by the deputy governor,” he said.
The governor said that all political office holders in the state would be members of the monitoring team including members of the state House of Assembly as would be approved by its Speaker. “It is disheartening to see the deputy governor running through the bushes to intercept returnees. “If by May 27, security at the borders does not improve, all political offices at the various LGAs will be dissolved. “We thank the various LGA chairmen whose tenure expires on May 28 for their services and we will be relying on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the guiding template in conducting our council elections,” he said.