Sofo news reported that the Plateau State government has taken commendable steps to douse palpable fear of the spread of Coronavirus in the state
Though there is no confirmed case of Coronavirus in Plateau State, its government has done immensely well both to prevent it and in readiness for any eventual outbreak.
According to the Governor of the state, Hon. Simon Lalong, prevention is better and cheaper than cure. So, since the index case of the virus in Lagos in February was announced, Plateau state has been on the guard doing all it can to prevent the spread of the disease to its domain.
The state immediately constituted a high-powered delegation made up of representatives of the state Ministry of Health, Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), World Health Organization (WHO), and security agents. After the usual period of 14 days, the people turned out to be free from the infection and were given a clean bill of health, so they were freed to join the people.
When the late Chief of Staff to the President, malls Abba Kyari was diagnosed with the virus, many governors, including Hon. Simon Lalong, for fear of contracting the disease following their close interaction with Kyari went for a test. Lalong and his family tested negative to the virus and this was publicly announced in the state to douse apprehension among citizens who were concerned for the governor’s safety.
Though many complained that he delayed in going for the test, the governor said he had to wait for the incubation period to pass so that his result will be accurate.
The governor said he and his family decided to take the test in order to help in tackling the rising stigma gradually building up on the disease and making people reluctant of coming out even when they notice any symptom.
He added that, “Corona Virus is not a death sentence and if we are not careful, people can die out of fear and stigma. I call on all our citizens particularly those who notice any symptom of the disease including difficulty in breathing, fever, cough, sore throat, headache and general fatigue, or have had contact with any infected person to report to health officials and submit themselves for examination.”
He also outlined measure government was taking to prevent the spread of the virus to the state, and reeled out restriction measure prescribed for citizens to guard themselves against becoming victims.
When citizens seemed reluctant at keeping to the restriction order, the Governor on the 27th of March, 2020 directed security agencies to embark on full enforcement of the measures, urging them to arrest and prosecute anyone found violating them.
Among the restriction orders, which are still currently in place, are closure of all markets (except those selling food items, pharmaceuticals and cooking gas), restriction number of in places of worship to 50 persons and less, and strict observance of 2-metre social distancing where up to 50 people congregate, as well as provision of hygiene materials such as water, soap and sanitizers.
The Governor also immediately banned street trading, street hawking, and begging, and placed ban on all drinking joints, social centres and night clubs. He also ordered mandatory provision of take-away packs by restaurants to avoid crowding, and cancelled all festivals, burial and wedding ceremonies and anniversary celebrations.
Others are strict adherence to 2-metres social distancing in motor parks and inside all transport vehicles and tricycles, capture of data of inbound and outbound passengers at all motor parks in the state, and 14 days self-isolation for overseas returnees or those who know that they have had contact with any of the confirmed cases in the country.
While appealing to citizens to adhere to the rules, the Governor urged them not to see it as punishment but to consider it as precautionary measure, aimed at safeguarding the possible occurrence of the disease in the state.
Going further in preparedness, the state established three isolation centres in Jos and some others across the three senatorial zones in the state. In Jos, The Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH), Bingham University Teaching Hospital (BhUTH), and Plateau Specialist Hospital, Jos.
He also acquired some equipment needed to tackle any case in the event of outbreak in the state. These include ventilators, personal protective wears for health workers, among others.
The Governor also used his influence to pressure the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to establish a testing centre in the state. This became the first and probably the only testing centre in the whole of North central geopolitical zone. For a state that has not recorded any confirmed case to have a testing centre is a plus. The people of Plateau state will not need to travel out to test anyone found with symptoms.