Gentlemen of the press, it is my pleasure to once again bring you up to speed in our collective fight against COVID-19, the present pandemic that has kept the entire global community on its toes over the last few months. As an integral part of the global community, Akwa Ibom state has felt, directly and indirectly the socio-economic impact of the pandemic.
To this end, our dear Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel has been on top of the situation, providing leadership and giving directions in the fight to mitigate the spread and effects of the novel Coronavirus on the generality of our people.
While we are witnessing very pathetic and astronomic rise in the number of cases of Coronavirus infection in different parts of the world, and even in some parts of our country, the situation in Akwa Ibom has, providentially been minimal. For this, we are grateful to God.
The low incidence level of Coronavirus has not been without efforts and pragmatic inputs from the leadership of the state. The Governor, working with the COVID-19 Management Committee, the Incidence Management Committee, health workers and other stakeholders, has deployed resources, financial and material to ensure the pandemic is kept at bay for as much as possible.
So far, only 9 cases have been confirmed in our state. Thankfully, we have had three reversed to negative and have been discharged. Although we still have five active cases and one dead, the sincerity of our government in the fight against the pandemic as not gone on noticed by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control. In a recent publication by the national body, our contact-tracing scored 99%. Within a short period of time, the state government has a fully kitted Emergency Operation Centre, which comprises Call Centre, Situation Room and Isolation Centre at the Ibom Specialty Hospital.
The three reversed cases of Coronavirus are evidenced of the quality of healthcare available in our isolation centres. From the testimonies of the survivors, who were full of praises and prayers for the governor, the isolation environments were very comforting while they sojourned therein.
Gentlemen, let me reiterate that the fight against the pandemic is akin to a war situation, where there is no room for jokes. Our experience at the Call Centre of the Emergency Operation Centre is that a few citizens have continued to make unnecessary calls, thereby obstructing genuine calls waiting to come in. Citizens should learn to direct calls not related to COVID-19 to appropriate quarters other than the call centre.
Although, our isolation centres in Ikot Ekpene and at the Ibom Specialty Hospital are in top shape to accommodate any eventualities, the administration has intensified efforts at completing the 300-bed isolation centre at the General Hospital, Ituk Mbang. A few days back, our dear Governor visited the site to assess the level of work done so far. I am happy to let you know that the facility will soon be ready for use with state-of-the-art medical facilities.
My friends in the journalism profession, many people are not aware of the huge resources the administration is expending to keep our state free of Coronavirus and other diseases. Over the last two weeks, we have embarked on the de-contamination of major towns and cities across the three Senatorial Districts of our state. Though the exercise has cost the state so much money, yet it has been worthwhile.
As the first responders to the Covid-19 pandemic, we implore our healthcare professionals to do all they can, to protect themselves. We have followed with deep concern, the spate of self-care and administration of drugs by some of our Physicians which has led to unpleasant consequences. We wish to advise our healthcare professionals to avail themselves of the facilities provided by government to handle the Covid-19 pandemic and other medical challenges. Waiting until conditions are medically irredeemable, even if such has no connections to Covid-19, as has been the case in some situations should be discouraged.
You are aware that our people have benefitted from the palliatives that emanated from kind-heartedness of our dear Governor. Apart from reaching out to the over 3,000 villages in Akwa Ibom State with assorted food items like garri, rice, beans and flour, efforts have also been made to reach non-indigenes residing in the state. This was done in the spirit of love, with the understanding and good neighbourliness.
Let me use this opportunity to address a few issues that arose from the distribution of the palliatives. Although the food items were meant to ameliorate the hardship of the most vulnerable among us, a number of citizens who never needed such queued up to partake, resulting in mixed reactions. While those who really needed the items and actually got them and were appreciative of the good gesture of the Governor who was kind enough to remember them at a time like this, those who did not need the items but received them for whatever reasons, took to the social media to cast aspersions on the administration. May I therefore advise that anyone who is able to provide for himself and family at such time as this, should for the sake of humanity steer clear of such items, so that those who truly need the items can have more to themselves.
The pandemic has altered the academic programmes of various academic institutions around the world. This has necessitated the development of new initiatives to ensure that not much is lost by pupils and students. On our part as a government, we have also initiated a novel idea, SCHOOL ON RADIO, to help our students prepare for their final examinations in the junior and senior secondary schools.
Gentlemen of the Press, in view of the critical situation that we are in as a nation and as a state, although it would have been desirable to call off the lockdown at this juncture, but given that we must ensure continuous safety of our citizens, the most ideal thing for now is to continue with the lockdown until Monday, April 27, 2020 where we will provide an update on the lockdown at a press briefing.
To this end, everyone is advised to continue to cooperate with the government and the security agencies in the bid to curb community spreading of the virus.
Thank you for listening.
Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem
Secretary to the State Government/Chairman COVID-19 Management Committee
Akwa Ibom State
23rd April 2020