The Edo State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Patrick Okundia has said the state has commenced facility and community mobile-based screening for Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Oredo Local Government Area (LGA). Speaking to journalists in Benin City, the commissioner said the move is part of efforts by the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led administration to prevent the spread of the infectious disease in the state, noting that the screening will be extended to other LGAs across Edo State. Okundia, who noted that the state plans to begin house to house active case searching, said the screening exercise is an aftermath of the training of all health workers in the state. He said over 30 communities have been visited for Active Case Search (ACS), while 305 contacts have been line-listed across the state. Decrying the level of compliance to the state government’s directive aimed at preventing further spread of the disease, he urged residents to complement the government’s efforts at ensuring the health and safety of citizens. Okundia said, “As part of efforts by the Edo State Government to curtail the spread of coronavirus, we have commenced facility and community mobile based screening for COVID-19 in Oredo LGA, which will subsequently be replicated in other LGAs. I want to assure you that this government has implemented measures to ensure that we curtail the spread of the virus. “Health workers across the 18 LGAs have been trained, and will man the first set of 50 screening centres, as we are targeting at least three in each of the18 LGAs of Edo state. Soon, we will commence house to house active case searching, to be conducted by these trained health professionals.” “While we step up efforts to contain this scourge, we urge all residents to stay at home and observe social distancing guidelines and other precautionary measures against the disease, including regular handwashing with soap under running water and the use alcohol-based hand sanitisers. If you must go out, do so wearing facemasks. Cover your mouth and nose properly when sneezing and/or coughing. Also do well to report anyone with oversea travel history.”, he added.
The Edo State Government has said that its decision to impose partial lockdown in the state in the face of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic was the best option given its peculiar socio-economic dynamics and the need to sustain a post-COVID-19 economy.
In a statement, Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Communication Strategy, Mr. Crusoe Osagie, said the state government based its decision on the recognition of the fact that the state’s economy is largely dominated by operators in the informal sector and that the impact of a total lockdown would be worse than that of the coronavirus.
According to him, “We are aware of sinister plans by some unscrupulous elements to stir controversy over the state government’s decision to adopt a partial as against total lockdown. Their strategy is such that they would influence public opinion to force government to impose a total lockdown so as to advance their selfish interests to make the government unpopular.
“However, we want to assure Edo people that our position is backed by reasoning as they are at the heart of all government’s policies at all times especially in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. Much as we are working assiduously to reduce the spread of the viral disease in the state, we would not do so by sacrificing our people’s economic wellbeing.
“There is no denying that the informal sector constitutes a major block of the state’s economy. These people survive on daily sales or wages, it would be callous to deprive them of daily bread at this time with a total lockdown. Those behind the call for a total lockdown have refused to see the implicit adverse effects of such moves in other states in Nigeria and different countries across the world.”
Noting that evidence from other states that have implemented total lockdown are unfavourable to the state’s current dynamics, he said, “We are not unaware of the issues that have arisen with the total lockdown in some states across the country. There have been civil unrests in some states leading to deaths. In fact, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), in its recent report, disclosed that 18 persons have been killed by security operatives in the course of enforcing the total lockdown. The figure is more than the total number of persons that have died from coronavirus.
“Also, the total lockdown in the state has proven not to be effective in containing spread or shutting out the virus, as we have evidence where despite a lockdown, cases of the virus have been recorded in some states that took such measures while in others, a 100 percent increase in new cases has been recorded.
“At the same time, the resurgence of crime in some states have also been trace to the total lockdown. Hoodlums have gone around terrorising people and robbing them of food and monies. It is obvious that, by its very far-reaching implications, a total lockdown is not advisable.”