Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State has called on the Federal Government and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control to as a matter of urgency provide regular COVID-19 test kits to States if the fight against the pandemic must be successful.
The call was part of the Governor’s live broadcast on COVID-19 update in the State at the Government House, Abakaliki on Sunday.
The Governor, who expressed worry over the rising number and trend of the coronavirus cases in the State, confirmed a total of 33 positive infections till date, all of whom were returnees to the State in defiance of the lockdown orders.
Umahi blamed the trend on the failure of the lockdown orders in most States of the country, which has allowed people to sneak into the State from Lagos, Abuja, Delta and others.
He emphasised that retaining these returnees at the holding centres for between 14 to 21 days without testing was counter productive, adding that discharging them without testing was worse than not retaining them at all
Umahi said: “I called this meeting because of the sudden change in the trend of cases of COVID-19 infections.
“Before now, until between the 26th of April to 20th of May, we had a total of 13 cases and six were discharged successfully.
“But on 22nd of May, we recorded nine new cases: six from Ishielu local government area, two from Ikwo, and one from Izzi Local government area.
“All the cases were from the people we collected at the borders, some from Delta, some Lagos and they sneaked into the State through the borders.
“There is no community infections in Ebonyi State yet.
“This is very disturbing because if the interstate lockdown from the various States are working, we will not have these cases.
“Another problem associated with this is that we are holding these people in our various holding centres in our communities, and yet we have issues with testing kits from NCDC (Nigeria Centre for Disease Control), though they finally gave some, which as at today are still not enough.
“So we wonder how we could be holding the people beyond 14 days without testing them.
“So the Federal Government has to do something about this.
“If they ask us to hold these people, isolate them from the society, we can’t even ask them to go to their houses and isolate because some people live up to five persons in one room in the rural areas.
“So the best thing to do as we are doing is to collect them at the borders, hold them according to the directive of NCDC and have them tested.
“But when there are no test kits, what do we do?”
The Governor informed that nine new cases were recorded on May 23 from Afikpo North local government area alone, while another two new cases came from Ohaukwu local government area on Sunday.
He further gave the breakdown of case among the local governments thus: “Afikpo North has nine cases; Izzi has eight cases; Ishielu has six cases; Ikwo has four cases; Ohaukwu has four cases; and Ohaozara has two cases.
“Ebonyi local government, Onicha local government and Ezza North have one case each.”
The Governor, who commended all the health workers, the committee members and indeed all Ebonyians for keeping faith with the government and their obedience to all the precautionary protocols, regretted that the non-availability of adequate test kits has greatly hampered their efforts.
He further stated that henceforth, allowances for security agencies, health personnel and others involved in border surveillance would be paid directly to them by the State monitoring team headed by the Deputy Governor, Kelechi Igwe, based on attendance and dedication to duty, and no longer through their various offices.
The measure, according to the governor, was to check truancy a well as ensure strict policing of the borders.
Umahi further regretted that in spite of the over 1,000 Technical Assistants and Senior Technical Assistants, over 370 Liaison Officers as well as numerous other appointees, the only 50 border inlets across the State still lacked proper policing, and warned that any political appointee who fails to get involved dedicatedly in the fight against the pandemic will be asked to give way.