COVID-19 pandemic battle can only be won by preventing importation ― Gombe gov

It has been declared that the battle against COVID-19 pandemic can better be won by preventing its importation and spread into communities through the enforcement of strict vigilance, observing recommended practices like hand-washing, application of sanitizers social distancing and compliance with medical advice.

The declaration was made by the Gombe State governor, Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya in a statewide broadcast on Tuesday giving an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the state.

He stated that “Regrettably, the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered an economic meltdown, which further deprives us the financial resources needed to adequately confront it. However, we are working with the Federal Government with a view to expanding existing palliative measures through the Social Investment Program and the development of new strategies in order to further cushion the effect of the crises on our people”.

The governor also said that “On our part, we took pro-active measures to prevent the importation of this virus into our communities, and equally prepared to detect and contain any possible outbreak or spread of the disease should it occur in our state”.

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Inuwa Yahaya declared that “As at this morning, there are 343 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Nigeria, spread across 19 states and the FCT. While 91 cases have been successfully managed and discharged, 10 deaths were recorded”.

“Fortunately, Gombe State still maintains a zero-case status and we pray and hope that the situation remains so.

However, considering our strategic position as the commercial nerve centre of the North-East sub-region, the need for a sustained vigilance, enforcement and control becomes even more imperative”, the governor pointed out.

He further explained that “This is because our state continues to attract the movement of people, goods and services from other parts of the country, including States with confirmed COVID-19 cases such as Bauchi, Kano and the FCT all of which have historical, social, cultural and economic relationships with our people”.

He stated that so far, the twenty-two suspected cases the teams identified and sent samples for testing at the NCDC Laboratory in Abuja, returned negative which suggests that the risk mitigation measures put in place are effective, and hopefully will continue to be so.

He, therefore, used the opportunity to pay special tributes to the State Task Force on COVID-19, the surveillance and response teams, and the entire health workers on the front-line as the state continue to prepare against COVID-19 with remarkable commitment and sacrifice.

Inuwa Yahaya added that “While we are putting measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we are aware of the impact some of these measures like a total lockdown could have on the livelihoods of our people, majority of whom live on daily wages. It is my hope that our people will continue to abide by the standard protocols issued by the Authorities”.

The COVID-19 Taskforce headed by a renowned immunologist and public health specialist, Professor Idris Mohammed, in order to guide the response to the pandemic has o far succeeded in achieving the identification and preparation of three centres for isolating COVID-19 patients which are: A 150-bed capacity hospital at Kwadon which has been fully renovated and furnished for the management of mild-to-moderate cases; A 12-bed capacity Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the State Specialist Hospital, Gombe has been established and is fully equipped for the management of severe cases including mechanical ventilation and other intensive care needs and A 50-bed capacity fully equipped facility at Federal Teaching Hospital, Gombe.

According to the governor, Additional isolation facilities are also being prepared at Funakaye and Kaltungo LGAs in order to ensure effective coverage of the state just as The Task Force has procured over N200 Million worth of medical supplies and consumables including personal protective equipment (PPEs), which have been prepositioned in all health care facilities across the state.

It has also built the capacity of frontline health workers to enable them to detect and respond to any suspected case according to the guidelines issued by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) as well as carried out an intensive sensitization and mobilization activities aimed at raising the awareness of the general public on preventive measures against the pandemic in all the 11 LGAs.

In addition, Rapid response teams in all the 11 LGAs have been set up in order to manage suspected cases while arrangements have been concluded to establish a testing laboratory in the state and already a PCR machine has been procured and we are currently engaging the NCDC with a view to obtaining the requisite accreditation.

Other measures taken according to the governor to contain the spread of COVID-19 in Gombe State included the closure of schools, stay-at-home order for civil servants from Levels 1 to 12, closure of state boundaries and the ban on large social, economic and religious gatherings.

He said that all these are going to remain in place and would be reviewed as the situation unfolds, based on the advice of public health experts, disaster management professionals, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and the Federal Government of Nigeria.

He, however, observed with dismay that while compliance with the restriction order was to a large extent encouraging,  the attitude of some community members and security agencies in helping motorists to sneak into our State was discouraging.

“In addition, we also received reports of the influx of Almajirai into our communities from the neighbouring states. It is disturbing to note that many local Mallams are encouraging such migrations, thereby increasing the risk of importing the virus into our communities. We appeal to all concerned to show more responsibility and patriotism. We shall continue to work with all stakeholders to ensure strict compliance with all restrictions and directives”, he stated.

On the medical front, the governor said that “it is gratifying to note that we continue to receive reports of exposed individuals under our robust local surveillance system. I am impressed by the speed with which our response teams were mobilised to contact them and take necessary actions”.

He further assured that “As we continue to monitor and enforce the above restrictions, we will not hesitate to deploy more stringent measures when and where necessary. Our response will continue to be guided by empirical evidence and pragmatism”.

The governor then thanked traditional rulers, religious and community leaders, members of the media and the civil society as well as other stakeholders for their support and understanding and further solicited for their continuous support in this gigantic battle against coronavirus.

He also thanked members of the State House of Assembly and all other political office holders who have contributed their one-month salaries to the fight against the pandemic just as he also appreciated other numerous public-spirited individuals and corporate organizations for their financial and material contributions.

The governor then used the opportunity to appeal for more support from both individuals and organisations to further complement our effort against the COVID-19 onslaught.

It will be recalled that on Monday 23rd, March 2020, the governor inaugurated a 23-member Task Force on COVID-19 in Gombe State in order to respond rapidly to prevent the spread of the infection in the state.


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