1. As the campaign against the coronavirus pandemic in Anambra State has now entered the phase of community searching, the state government has decided to establish a COVID-19 Task Force in each of the 21 local government areas (LGAs) in the state. Each Task Force will be headed by the Chairman of the Transition Committee, and members will comprise the Health Officer, the Information Officer, the Disease & Surveillance Officer and the Ministry of Health Covid-19 Laision Officer in the LGA.
2. The government has also decided to set up a COVID-19 Task Force in each of the 326 wards in the state. Members will be the Ministry of Health Liaison Officer, the Officer in charge of the main Primary Healthcare in the ward, the Youth Leader in the Ward, the Woman Leader in the ward, the Development Ward Chairman and the Councillor of the ward who will head it. Both Task Forces are to take to the grassroots the message of the dangers of COVID-19 and how to prevent the spread of the contagion.
3. In view of the above, members of our various communities are enjoined to provide relevant information to the Task Forces in the LGAs and in the 326 wards in Anambra State. Relevant information includes the presence of strangers in their midst, the return of persons who have in the last two weeks been to states with high incidences of the coronavirus pandemic and individuals who exhibit such COVID-19 symptoms as dry cough, constant sneezing and shortness of breath. They may report such cases to their community leaders like Town Union Presidents General and Traditional Rulers.
4. Some of our people are already cooperating very well with the authorities in this respect. For example, the travel history of the second COVID-19 case was provided by vigilant and patriotic members of his community who knew he travelled to Kano towards the end of April and returned secretly to his base in the Awka Capital Territory on May 6, 2020. When he was tested for COVID-19, the result was positive, and he is now receiving good medical attention in one of our protective care centres. His wife has joined him in the centre. His friend was traced and tested for the contagion, and the result turned out positive. He also is receiving treatment in a protective care unit.
5. The friend of the second case is one of the three persons who tested positive last weekend when samples from 19 persons were tested at a private molecular laboratory in Nnewi, Anambra State. It has to be pointed out that one of the three confirmed cases is not from Anambra State, nor is he resident in our state, nor does he do business here. He was accompanying human remains in a vehicle from Lagos to Imo State. When he was given a form to fill on entering Anambra State from Delta State while his sample was being taken, he falsely wrote Anambra as his destination. When he was contacted after the result of his test came out, he confessed he lied in the form. He mischievously switched off his phone and travelled back to Lagos. With the benefit of our sophisticated communication equipment, however, the Anambra State government traced him to Amuwo Odofin, Lagos, and the necessary information has been passed on to the authorities in Lagos State.
6. It is necessary to stress that the tests carried out at the weekend are the first set of samples from Anambra State to be tested for COVID-19 in the state; hitherto, such tests were done only at the Virology Centre, Irrua, Edo State. The privately owned diagnostic centre in Nnewi, where the tests were done, is one of the three laboratories in Anambra State which Governor Willie Obiano has been advising the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to certify as testing centres for COVID-19. The others are the state government-owned Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu Teaching Hospital Mega Laboratory in Awka, the only mega lab in the Southeast which can test up to 500 samples simultaneously; and the Federal Government-owned Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital laboratory in Nnewi.
7. At the invitation of the Anambra State government, top officials of the NCDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) visited the state on Saturday, April 28, 2020, and inspected the three laboratories and other relevant key facilities; they expressed delight at what they saw. In other words, both the public private partnership (PPP) and cooperative federalism (as opposed to adversarial federalism) are operational in Anambra State for the benefit of the people. As a result, Anambra State will begin to assist other states with COVID-19 testing sooner than many people would seem to appreciate.
8. The state government would like to, once again, thank numerous individuals and organizations that have been contributing almost daily to the COVID-19 appeal fund. They have been contributing money, medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, medical consumables and food items. Just yesterday, Mr Goddy Ike from Nnewi donated a house with six flats, complete with a 60 KVA electric power generating set, to the state government to use a protective care unit, in appreciation of the impressive work which the government has done to shield the people from the ravages of the pandemic. We are also grateful to the leadership of the Catholic Church in the state which has graciously offered all its hospitals in the state to serve as protective centres if need be.
9. Much as the majority of ndi Anambra have been very cooperative in the fight against COVID-19, it is regrettable that there are individuals who, by failing to comply with the guidelines, directives and the relevant order on the prevention of the spread of this highly infectious disease, are putting the lives of millions of our people in the harm’s way. They include those who refuse to abide by the national curfew from 8pm to 6am, those who refuse to wear face masks and those who deliberately wear face coverings on their jaws, thereby are unable to cover their noses and mouths.
10. To protect ndi Anambra from the untoward behavior of these people which has colossal consequences, the state government has decided to set up mobile courts in various parts of the state to try offenders. The details of how the mobile courts will carry out their duties are being worked out by the Ministry of Justice.
We will continue to work together to make Anambra State remain the safest place in Nigeria and elsewhere in every sense. God bless Anambra State, the Light of the Nation.
C. Don Adinuba
Commissioner for Information & Public Enlightenment.