The Imo State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Bartholomew Okorochukwu, has dismissed reports that 37 persons died of COVID-19 in Mbitolu Local Government Area of the state.
The Commissioner spoke on the report at a news conference in Owerri, the Imo State capital, on Wednesday.
Okorochukwu said the rumour was unfounded.
He said an investigation by a health surveillance team led by the Director of Public Health, who visited the area, indicated that there were no such deaths.
He said: “This news briefing became necessary based on the news making the rounds that there were about 37 persons in Mbitolu Local Government Area that died within the space of one week and that the town was in turmoil.
“We received information that the villagers were in shock, running helter-skelter, and that they wanted the state government to come urgently to their rescue.
“One of the key things our health team noticed on arrival was that people went about their normal businesses with no form of pandemonium anywhere.”
Okorochukwu said interactions with the local government chairman, counsellors, local chiefs and villagers suggested that there was no pandemic in the area.
He said what was gathered was that some deaths had occurred over a long period of time, but burial rites had not been conducted for them.
He added: “On enquiry, we discovered that the relatives were not ready with burial rites and that the deaths resulted from accidents, illnesses and old age and they did not occur in quick succession
“We advised them against delaying such burials because of current global health challenges.”