Rising Cases of Covid-19 Triggers Panic in Ebonyi

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Kosisochukwu Anokwuru

In the wake of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) that has swept across the globe and left no part of the world immune to the infectious disease, Ebonyi State located in the South Eastern part of Nigeria has not been spared by the ravaging claws of the nano-size virus – as no fewer than sixty-three confirmed cases of coronavirus has been recorded in the state as of the time of filing this report.

Recall that the first confirmed case of Covid-19 pandemic in Nigeria was announced on February 27, 2020, when an Italian citizen in Lagos tested positive for the virus, while the second emerged on March 9 when a second case was reported in Ewekoro, Ogun State by a Nigerian citizen who incidentally had contact with the index case, the Italian citizen. But it was not until April 26, two months ago, that Ebonyi entered the pandemic picture.

The State Governor, David Umahi, stated that the index case was a 31-year-old man from Ukawu in Onicha Local Government Area of the state, who contracted the infectious disease after returning from Ondo State, precisely Ore.

Since then, the numbers gradually increased and Ebonyi has unarguably become the epicentre of the pandemic in Eastern Nigeria, trailing Zamfara on the dark log of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) pandemic statistics. Albeit, with no soul lost to the ravaging plague.

Reportedly, from April 29 to May 20, 2020, the state recorded 12 cases of COVID-19, which brought the total number of cases to 13. The breakdown of the cases according to LGA’s were seven from Izzi, four from Ikwo, one from Onicha and one from Ezza North. Between May 22 and 24, additional 20 cases of the dreaded coronavirus disease was confirmed in the state, with six persons treated and discharged.

According to Governor Umahi, the state recorded nine new cases on May 22- six from Ishielu LGA, two from Ivo and one from Izzi local government. These cases were all the people collected from the boundaries, especially those who travelled from Delta, Lagos, and snuck into the state through the boundaries.

Umahi added that on May 23, the state had another 9 new cases from Afikpo North alone and it was suspected that these people got infected at the holding down centres. While two cases were recorded on May 24, from Ohaukwu local government area of the state, spiking the number of confirmed cases to thirty-three with six discharged.

As of Tuesday, June 2, official figures released by Ebonyi State Coronavirus Incidence Report revealed that the state had recorded a total of 40 cases of coronavirus, out of which 32 were active cases, 8 persons discharged with no fatalities.

However, at present, Ebonyi has witnessed a sudden spike in positive COVID-19 cases, as NCDC confirmed 23 new cases on Wednesday, June 3- the highest number recorded within 24 hours in the state since they joined the pandemic fray.

NCDC recent reports based on Confirmed Cases by State ranks Ebonyi at 20th position on the pandemic log, behind Zamfara State. The statistics from the log revealed that the state so far has recorded a total of 63 confirmed cases, 55 active cases, 8 patients treated and discharged, and zero mortality.

As such, following the sudden rise of the number of cases of COVID-19 in the state, Governor David Umahi suspended all government activities for one week, starting from today (Thursday).

Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Barr. Uchenna Orji, who stated the position of the governor said Umahi was perturbed about the way and manner some State Executive Council members were infected with the disease, adding that there was a need to take further steps to contain the spread.

According to him, “in order to ensure effective contact tracing, all Government offices will be shut down from today, Thursday, 4th June 2020 and resume on Wednesday, 10th June 2020.” and all civil servants shall work from their respective homes within the period but shall leave their phones open to respond to official imperatives.

He said the governor directed Dr Richard Nnabo and his team to commence comprehensive decontamination of all government offices including the new and old Government House complex, adding that all Exco members and government officials, especially of the Ministries of Finance and Budget, are advised to undergo COVID-19 test within seven days period.

The commissioner added that “The governor further advises that during this period of the closedown of government offices, all workers, especially from the two Ministries aforementioned, should go into self-isolation. All site operations shall, however, remain open, but must be in strict observance of COVID-19- protocols.”

Orgi further stated that Umahi pleaded with Eboyians to take seriously the NCDC COVID-19 Protocols, especially all precautionary measures such as hand washing, use of hand sanitizers, use of face masks, social distancing and avoiding of crowded places to contain the spread.

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