The Senior Special Assistant to Delta State Governor on Health Monitoring and member of Covid-19 Enforcement Committee, Dr Michael Nwoko, has advised residents of Delta State, to have a rethink and make necessary cultural adjustments so as to be able to weather through the reality of the trying time the State is passing through as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic, saying that individuals who fail to adhere to the pandemic preventive measures stand to put their personal safety into serious jeopardy.
The SSA, further stated that Delta State under Sen. Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, has long foreseen what is happening now hence he took necessary proactive measures to safeguard residents of the State, even long before the Federal and most States swung into action.
Dr. Nwoko who spoke during an interactive section with Austine Ogwude, on Voice Of Delta program, Frank Talk, an audience participation program of Delta Broadcasting Service Radio, Asaba, on Tuesday, called on citizens to reciprocate the Governor’s concern for their safety and wellbeing, by adhering to the COVID-19 preventive measures issued by NCDC.
He maintained that the State Government is playing its parts diligently, to curtail the spikes of the virus, adding that what is left is for citizens to comply with Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) preventive guidelines to stay safe from the pandemic and insisted that the situation at hand is a matter of life and death, which may not necessarily need legislation to enforce.
While outlining actions being implemented by the State government to contain the spread of the pandemic, which include, contact tracing of persons of interest , testing, isolation and treatment, he emphasized that testing is very necessary to provide data for effective planning and said that the State is recording high figures because of its increased testing capacity, and insisted that some States are returning lower figures, not because they have fewer cases but because, they are not testing as much as Delta State is doing.
Nwoko further posited that the spike in COVID-19 cases in the Country as well the non compliance of the people to preventive protocols strongly indicates that there could be a second lockdown of the country, to enable States test and isolate victims in order to curtail the spread.
“As regards the spike of COVID-19 pandemic in the State, much as it is important for government to enforce preventive measures and provide needed infrastructure to manage the cases, It is also imperative for the people to take responsibility for their personal safety. People must be able to decipher and understand the dynamics of the situation we are in. The issue at hand is not like regular court process, where people are charged and convicted, this is a matter of life and death. So, if you do not wear face mask, it will increase your chances of contracting the virus and when you contract the virus, you are going to get ill and no one can guarantee your chances of recovery, because a lot of persons have died due to the virus infection. So it is a matter of life and death. These are the choices people are supposed to make. You do not need Government order or law for you to take care of your personal safety, when you have the option to protect yourself.
“For example, the issue of sensitization is relative in the sense that there is nobody that is not aware of coronavirus pandemic. Go to remote villages, even young children know there is coronavirus. The issue has nothing to do with sensitization. It bothers on our attitude, our response to the pandemic, so what we are focusing on now is preventive protocols. There is no need to preach to anybody about coronavirus, people are aware.
“So what we are focusing on is to tell people to adopt a new cultural attitude to life, the culture of wearing facemask, social and physical distancing, washing of hands with soap under running water and maintenance of personal hygiene. These are the new norms under this pandemic situation. This is the culture we must adapt to defeat COVID-19 and it is the culture we must encourage Deltans to follow.
“The coronavirus is real; it takes the belief of an individual to appreciate the fact that the virus is real. It is only when you appreciate that the virus is real that you can comply with preventive measures to keep yourself safe. We have a lot to do, it is not just the fight for government alone, the people must complement government’s efforts.
“Just imagine, somebody is now calling to say that there is no COVID-19 in Nigeria, so how are you going to sensitize those sets of individuals? It is sad to see a lot of educated people, who still hold the belief that there is no COVID-19 in Nigeria. We all heard the testimony of a discharged patient who informed that she never believed there is COVID-19, until she got infected. Should we wait until we are infected before we believe the virus exist?
“Delta State is recording more cases because of nonchalant attitude of the people towards the virus. The fanning of ignorance of the existence of the pandemic is a major cause of the spikes. It can equally be reasoned that we have more cases than states like Kano, Anambra, Kaduna etc. because of our effective testing capacity. If you test, you will surely have cases. States without effective testing capacity are most likely to record fewer cases, but that does not mean they have fewer cases in the population. The cases are there within the population. They are there spreading the virus even to more people in those States.
“Delta State is working to increase her testing capacity, presently we have one testing center at Asaba, unlike before, where we have to take samples to Irrua specialist hospital for testing, which takes three to four days to get the result. Now we can test samples within hours. So the rate of our testing has increased tremendously. By the time we increase our testing capacity, we can now test everybody in the State. It will be compulsory for everybody to get tested.
“The bottom line is that we should all get involve in letting the people know that COVID-19 is real and let them know that we can defeat the pandemic by adhering to the preventive measures introduced by NCDC. This is not a rocket science formula, it is as simple. So the task before every one of us; the media, community leaders, Churches, Market Associations, Youth groups and security agents is to get involved in making people to comply with preventive protocols of the pandemic.
“At this juncture, I want to call upon residents of the State to join us in praying for the speedy recovery of the SSG, Barr. Chiedu Ebie and the Commissioner for Information, Hon. Charles Aniagwu, both of whom have been in the frontline in the fight against COVID-19 but tested positive to the virus a few days ago,” Dr Nwoko concluded.