Governor Godwin Obaseki’s COVID 19 address of April 19, 2020
My dear good people of Edo State, I am pleased to speak to you once again, and to intimate you on actions and steps which have been taken to tackle the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the State.
- After I established the State COVID-19 Response Team on the 23rd of March 2020, we commissioned an epidemiological study in conjunction with the UBTH to predict and guide the course of action required to control the spread of the COVID–19 in Edo in order to guide the course of action required to control the spread of the virus in Edo State.
- The model predicted that after the Edo first confirmed case on the 23rd, we will see 8 cases within the first 3 weeks, and a growth that could peak to about 500,000 cases in the last week of June except we take some actions. This model has influenced and informed the strategic plan and framework which we have now designed. Our approach like with many other countries is to use data and evidence to take the steps and actions required to flatten the curve and reduce the prediction.
- Consequently, Edo COVID-19 Response Team, which I Chair, meets daily to provide effective coordination, supported by the NCDC, WHO, UNICEF, ISTH, UBTH, and Security Agencies.
- I am very proud of our the very comprehensive governance and management framework, which is aligned to international best practices and global standards because this is a fundamental requirement to tackle a pandemic of this nature.
We have achieved the following so far;
- As our health workers are crucial if we are to win the fight against COVID-19, therefore we have emphasized; training, equipping and motivation of frontline health workers. To date we have trained over 4200 healthcare workers who are now manning our screening, testing and treatment facilities. Apart from providing the safety and protection required, we have offered them life insurance and special allowances to continue to motivate them.
- Screening and Testing is key if we are to understand and have the required information to control the spread of this virus. Therefore, our goal is to screen a minimum of 500,000 of our citizens. The first of the proposed 100 screening centers started operations last week in Oredo Local Government Area. 6 of these centers are Public Primary Healthcare Centers, and 4 are in private hospitals. This would be scaled up to all the 18 local government areas in the State within the next 2 weeks.
- I am glad to inform you that the testing center at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) is now ready. We have begun trial tests under the guidance of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) we expect it will commence full operations this week. We have also taken delivery of another PCR testing machine currently being installed at the Edo Specialist Hospital which we hope will also be ready within the next 2 weeks. This will give us the capacity to perform up to 1000 tests daily in Edo State.
- With massive screening and testing we will have sufficient information which is required to direct the decisions for proper management and control of the scourge.
- I am also pleased to inform you, surveillance, contact tracing and line listing is very effective in all local governments in Edo State. Every reported case is actively searched and Persons of Interest (POIs) are thoroughly followed up. We have started treating patients in 3 of the 4 isolation centers in Benin City, Irrua and Auchi, which have a total capacity of 300 beds and 30 ventilators.
- Our operations involve huge logistic effort and coordination of more than 500 people trained to collect, process and distribute samples, supplies and palliatives. Up to 2,000 men and women from Federal and State security agencies are helping us to provide security for our health workers and residents whilst ensuring compliance and enforcement of our safety guidelines.
- Many of our people still do not believe that COVID 19 is real and therefore are not internalizing social distancing which is required to end this pandemic. We have therefore organized our communication team to rally our people by undertaking massive awareness and raise the consciousness of citizens to accept personal responsibility to protect themselves and the community. We are utilizing all available media from town criers, radio, billboards and television stations to send the messages.
- As at today, Edo State has recorded 15 COVID-19 cases. Unfortunately, the worst may be yet to come as we expect to see a rapid increase in the number of cases when we begin massive screening and testing. The good news is that with the steps we are putting in place, I want to assure you that we are fully prepared to combat this pandemic and emerge from this crisis a stronger and more cohesive state.
- We will continue to impose a partial lockdown for now and not totally shutdown the economy because of the untold economic hardships which a total shutdown will cause to our citizens. We will review our decisions based on the evidence obtained from our mass screening and testing.
- We realise we need to do more social distancing at this time. Therefore, we are taking additional measures to ensure that people stay at home. Consequently, with effect from tomorrow 20th April an order prohibiting movement of people in Edo State from 7pm to 6am. This order will be reviewed after 10 days when we have increased our screening and testing of our citizens. The security agencies, by this directive, are mandated to enforce total compliance by ensuring that movement is restricted at night across the State.
- All drivers and passengers of all vehicles bringing essential workers and commodities into the state will be screened by health professionals and triaged. We crave your indulgence to cooperate with them as we ensure the process is without much hitches.
- Also, I want to reiterate that the ban on street trading, which was announced by the Deputy Governor, Rt. Hon. Comrade Philip Shaibu, is in the best interest of our people. This move is aimed at ensuring that all trading activities in this period is concentrated in the primary and secondary school premises, where we are strictly enforcing the social distancing policy as well as the hygiene and safety precautions, which will slow the spread of COVID – 19.
- We quite aware that many families and individuals are suffering as a result of the partial lock down. That is why we have started distributing food items to over 50,000 vulnerable families and will give medical support to even more. We are fumigating and providing water in markets, parks and public spaces and have reduced taxes on small businesses.
- The situation we find ourselves today, is equivalent to a war against an unknown enemy, that is why I am calling on every citizen of Edo State to partner with the government on this shared responsibility to stop the spread of the virus. We are therefore appealing to everyone to support our fight by donating cash, healthcare equipment, water, food, testing supplies. We are also encouraging you to look out for and support our vulnerable persons so they can maintain their dignity and prevent catastrophe. We should all show care and love at a time like this and be our brothers’ keeper. The government of Edo State is leading this battle and has already spent over 1billion naira of our limited resources in this fight.
- We have constituted the Edo State Fundraising Committee, which is populated by captains of industry, religious leaders and traditional rulers to help galvanize efforts at mobilizing resources to beef up the state government’s response to the pandemic. The committee will be inaugurated on Monday, April 20, and we expect that their input would richly improve our efforts at building the required buffers to triumph over this setback.
- In order to cater to the educational needs of our children who are to resume school on the 27th of April, we have designed EDOBEST-AT-HOME in partnership with MTN. EDOBEST-AT-HOME consists of interactive audio lessons with customized messaging, digital self-study activity packs, mobile phone based interactive quizzes, digital storybooks and virtually moderated teacher-student classroom interactions. Private schools are welcome to access the materials which will be updated on the Edo SUBEB website.
- Once again, try to get screened at any of our several screening centers across the state and where required, you will be tested for confirmation. Wash your hands regularly with soap under running water and use alcohol-based sanitizers. Stay at home; but if you must go out, wear facemasks and avoid gatherings of more than 20 persons.
- Don’t be afraid! Keep safe, stay healthy and strong. COVID-19 need not be a death sentence. If we all play our parts, together we will beat it.
God bless Edo State
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria