The Akwa Ibom governor, Udom Emmanuel, has said there was no confirmed case of the novel coronavirus in Akwa Ibom State, and there was no need to shut down schools in the state.
Emmanuel, in a state-wide broadcast to the people of Akwa Ibom, on Saturday morning, urged residents of the state to disregard “rash of mischievous information peddled by certain media platforms on the status of the coronavirus in our State”.
Emmanuel said, “For emphasis, let me state here unequivocally that there is no confirmed case of COVID-19 disease in Akwa Ibom State as I speak to you.”
The governor said the state has put up a comprehensive measure at its airport and also set up Infectious Disease Prevention and Control Task Force even before the first confirmed case of coronavirus in Nigeria.
He said the state government, besides sensitising the people on how to stay safe from the virus, has set up surveillance, prevention and infection control measures in hospitals across the state, including the distribution of necessary medical equipment to hospitals.
“Functional ambulances and rapid response teams are on standby to move suspected or confirmed cases, if any, to the Emergency Operation Centre at Ikot Ekpene.
“The Emergency Operation and Treatment Centre (EOC), in Ikot Ekpene is ready to serve as an isolation/treatment centre to receive, and care for any confirmed case of COVID-19 infection if it occurs.
“The State Ministry of Health is in constant communication with National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Directorate of Public Health Services has received sample collection kits from NCDC and are updating the management of the Ministry on, global, national and State COVID-19 data and information daily,” the governor said.
The governor advised residents of the state to keep observing personal hygiene and social distancing, and to report any suspected case of the virus to health officers.
“I would like to remind you of some symptoms of the infection which include: Fever, cough, sore throat, difficulty in breathing, generally feeling unwell (malaise), common cold (catarrh or runny nose, sneezing, cough).
“Anyone with these symptoms should self-isolate and invite our Emergency Response Team for assessment and follow-up.
“We encourage you to report members of your family or friends with these symptoms to the Ministry of Health. Your report will be held and treated with absolute confidentiality. The Ministry of Health has already provided the emergency telephone numbers for you to contact the State’s emergency team at any time of the day.
“Given the measures aforestated, it is our belief that there is no need to shut down our public schools, which are supposed to close in a week’s time,” he said.
The governor appealed to the press to be cautious and rational while reporting the pandemic.
“I want to appeal to our people, especially the gentlemen of the press to exercise utmost caution and deep sense of rationality and reflection in the manner you report this global pandemic.
“There is no redeeming value in causing panic in the State; there is nothing to be gained by misinforming the public.
“This disease has no political coloration. It does not and will not spare those to be infected along political lines; therefore, we should put aside our political affiliations and tackle this issue as an existential threat.”
Nigeria has so far confirmed 12 cases of the deadly virus, out of which two have recovered.
Amid public concerns of the risk of further spread, many states have ordered a closure of schools, religious, political and social gatherings.
The federal government has also ordered all schools in the country closed, although it has not given a date for that to happen.