THE Oyo State government, on Thursday, March 19, allayed the fears of residents of the state on the Corona Virus pandemic, declaring that there is no confirmed case of the disease in the state yet.
Bashir Bello, state’s Commissioner for Health, who made the disclosure at a press conference held at the Agodi Secretariat, maintained that following the confirmed cases of the virus in neighbouring states, all facilities in the state are on high alert and that resources have been deployed to facilities in case of unforeseen circumstances.
Taiwo Adisa, chief press secretary to Governor Makinde, issued a press release quoting the Commissioner as urging residents of the state not to panic over the recent confirmed case of a Corona Virus victim in Ekiti State, who was said to have transited from Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
He stated that contact-tracing has already begun, adding that the surveillance system has already been set up in the state.
He maintained that the individual who was said to have transited through Ibadan did not actually stay in a hotel but at a private residence, which has already been identified by the surveillance officers of the Ministry of Health.
The commissioner said: “I am here today to further address the unfortunate incidence of the confirmation of cases of coronavirus in Nigeria. The Oyo State Ministry of Health has continued to follow the unraveling of the outbreak. Since its outbreak in December 2019, over 170,000 cases and 7,000 deaths have been reported across over 150 countries of the world.
“So, at this point, the Ministry of Health wishes to inform the general public that despite the report of several cases of Corona Virus in the country, our Ministry is committed to ensuring a disease-free Oyo State.
“This is particularly important because these cases have been in neighbouring states. The Oyo State Ministry of Health would like to reassure the public that our surveillance system has been activated and contact-tracing is ongoing.
“For instance, the individuals involved in the confirmed cases in Ekiti State, transmitting through Ibadan, our state capital. Contact-tracing is on. As of today, we have a case of an individual who just returned from the UK; but the individual is observing the protocol of self-isolation.
“Some tests are currently being carried out on samples collected from the said individual by the National Reference Laboratory, LUTH, for South-West. The test results are being expected tomorrow.
“At this point, all facilities in Oyo State remain on high alert and adequate resources have been deployed to all facilities in case of unforeseen circumstances.”
He added: “Let me at this juncture note that the provision of qualitative health care is a joint responsibility of all. The media, which you all represent, has a cardinal role to play in the dissemination of appropriate information to the public and it is thus a major partner. Together we can prevent the spread of COVID-19 to Oyo State.”
The Commissioner stressed that it is important for residents of the state to remain calm and also ensure strict adherence to hygienic practices such as regular washing of hands with soap and running water or use of alcohol-based hand sanitiser, observation of good respiratory hygiene such as covering of the nose and mouth with toilet papers when sneezing or coughing, proper disposal of used toilet papers and washing of hands.
He said: “Once again, I wish to reassure the people of the State that there is currently no confirmed case of Corona Virus in Oyo State until the result of the said individual return to us.
“The public is, therefore, implored to remain calm and to ensure strict adherence to hygiene practices (Regular handwashing with soap and running water or use of alcohol-based sanitisers).
“They should observe good respiratory hygiene (covering of the nose and mouth with tissue paper when sneezing or coughing and proper immediate disposal of the used tissue paper as well as immediate hand washing).”
On whether the state would place a ban on public gathering or not, Bello maintained that the Ministry has been preaching social distancing, noting that citizens must recognize the danger inherent in public gatherings at this period by following all the preventive measures.
He added: “As regards the issue of public gathering, what we are doing is not just telling people that there is no danger but there must be no alarm, provided we take all the precautions that are necessary. Ours is to alert the public to take some preventive measures so as to remain safe. This is an epidemic, which has no borders or way. So, if it is attended to at the outset, the prognosis is usually better.
“As regards the issue of gathering in churches and mosques, that is the warning we are giving to the people. If we decidedly ban religious worships, you will hear different opinions that it will generate; that Oyo State government stopped people from worshipping God. So, people who know all these public health preventive measures don’t need to be given a second hand.
“We are now calling on all citizens to, please, rely on their intelligent quotient. We are saying that, even between two people, we should maintain a social distance, how much less going to a gathering. People should intelligibly know how to take care of their lives not necessarily when they get a ban. Anybody attending any social gathering now should know it is dangerous.
“So, we advise that here in Oyo State, all groups and societies concerned should, please, try and avoid or cancel any such gathering being proposed on grounds of public health.
“The public is, hereby, implored to practice preventive measures like social distancing, staying about six feet from the next person, limit social gathering and social contact to only when absolutely necessary. Because of the fluid nature of development around COVID-19, as the world evolves in its handling of the pandemic, we in Oyo State are also evolving and exploring ways to address the situation.”
The Commissioner hinted that the Oyo State government is committed to ensuring a disease-free state by placing the surveillance system and contact tracing in all the nooks and crannies of the state.