From Orji Uche (Esq)
1. The administration of His Excellency, Engr. Chief David Nweze Umahi FNSE, FNATE, Governor of Ebonyi state has worked round the clock to address the issues of preventive health services through the establishment of primary Health care centres at the various wards, the General Hospitals in each of the 13 Local Government Areas and the Tertiary Hospitals across the state built by his administration, including the construction of School of Nursing and Midwifery, the renovation of School of Health, Ngbo, the on-going ultra modern College of Medicine, the Virology complex and the health emergency complex at AE-FUTHA. But the challenges of health care system have given more impetus for the priority given to health services by the present administration, especially in this threat of Covid-19.
2. The outbreak and spread of Corona virus in every part of Nigeria brought even greater challenges to the State government. However, in Ebonyi state, the news of the first outbreak of Corona virus in China spurred the Governor in January 2020 into proactively initiating preventive and precautionary measures to battle the scourge.
3. The Governor inaugurated the State Anti-Corona virus Committee with a mandate to implement Government Anti-Corona virus Proactive Response Policy (A-CPRP). The committee which has its structures at the State, Local Government Areas, Development Centres and Wards is supervised by the Governor himself.
4. The committee identified the entire exit and entry points in the state, earmarked all the essential service centres, and scheduled all the 296 health wards for sensitization and implementation of the Covid-19 regulations. Government designated and equipped 39 holding/observation centres with the State township stadium as the Central holding/Isolation Centre.
5. In addition to the state covid-19 Isolation/treatment centre established at the Unity Square and at the State Virology Centre, Government built and equipped a 300-bed capacity ultra modern Covid-19 Centre of Excellence and equipped Elunwovu General Hospital. Also equipped are the General Hospitals at Onicha, Ishielu and Ikwo Local Government Areas which are designed to be holding centres for each of the senatorial zones.
6. The state government invested huge amount of money to procure necessary NCDC materials including ventilators, Oxygen Cylinders, Resuscitation beds, Infra red thermometers, Sanitizers, door frame-size body temperature and metal scanners, pillar size body temperature scanners with auto sanitizers, preventive drugs, face masks and numerous palliatives distributed to people of all works of life and party affiliations in all the polling units in the state. The Governor himself led the taskforce to monitor compliances to the NCDC protocols, called periodic meetings, briefed the citizenry on developments in the state and made proclamations on regulations and precautionary measures adopted from time to time to battle the scourge of the pandemic.
7. The decision to lockdown on social and economic activities including schools, churches, social gatherings like burials, church weddings and emphasis on social distancing , wearing of face masks, use of hand sanitizers and regulations on gatherings in essential service centres are preventive strategies that helped in the containment of the threat of Covid-19
8. Border lockdown including interception of returnees from epicenter states was among the policies that helped in the prevention of early case of community transmission. Government adopted bottom-top approach in handling Covid-19 cases across the state, including setting up of committees on religious worship centres, essential service centres; Local Government, Development Centre and Ward committees and the Covid-19 Situation Room.
9. Unfortunately, the index case of Corona virus in Ebonyi state was recorded on the 26th day of April, 2020 through a male carrier that was returning from Ondo state and was intercepted at the borders and upon Covid-19 test was confirmed positive. Since then, the state has been receiving positive cases from intercepted returnees even as the state recently recorded community transmission.
10. In the face of these efforts, Covid-19 dared our dear Governor on 4th July, 2020 including some of his aides while working day and night to tackle the challenges and threats of the pandemic to the social and economic lives of Ebonyi people.
11. Throughout the period of isolation, the Governor suffered no symptoms of Covid-19, but worked under isolation to tackle critical state matters. In performing his constitutional mandates, he held virtual meetings with Stakeholders, Executive Council members and even the South East leaders where resolutions were made on issues of state, zonal and national interest.
12. From isolation, he assented into law, the 2020 Revised Budget which is a strategic economic recovery plan targeted at placing agriculture, Education, Human Capital Development and Health at the front burners of the state development blue print while seeking to complete the ongoing economically stimulating projects as a measure to position the economy of the state on the part of prosperity, despite the threat of Covid-19 pandemic.
13. It is to be noted that Ebonyi State’s strategy in battling Covid-19 pandemic is unique and result-driven both in processes and prospects. Apart from being one of the first states in Nigeria to establish a Covid-19 treatment centre, the state government developed an operational order in which observation centres are available in each locality to serve as surveillance points for suspected Covid-19 cases. Health workers and other volunteer workers were made to operate from isolated facilities to reduce the high risk of associating with their family members and the public. The Governor is one of the first in Nigeria to give assent to Corona Virus Law and Related Matters and among the first to convoke citizens’ consultative meeting on Budget 2020 and the eventual assent into law of the 2020 Revised Budget. There is anti corona virus hot lines and 24 hours-Situation room for members of the public to call or text in Covid-19 emergency situations. Above all, worshippers of God went on their kneels to seek the face of God to end the pandemic.
14. The Almighty God confirmed his words and promises on the 31st of July, 2020 when He delivered His servant and our dear leader, Engr. Umahi from the scourge of Corona virus pandemic and so he became negative to the glory of God. We thank God for his grace upon our dear Governor; we shall continue to remain thankful to God that as at 1st August, 2020, out of 5,265 persons tested and out of 845 that tested positive, 718 persons have been treated and discharged while we have about 96 active cases being treated with a hope to achieve full recovery. Although we have recorded about 24 fatalities, we give God the glory for in Him we are more than conquerors
15. The people of Ebonyi State are deeply grateful to God for the exemplary leadership demonstrated by the administration of Governor David Nweze Umahi even in the face of this deadly COVID-19 pandemic. God has again demonstrated that something good can come out of Nazareth. Ebonyi is now a transformed state
To God be the glory.