COVID- 19: AKWA IBOM REALITIES

COVID- 19: AKWA IBOM REALITIES

Enwono-Abasi Elisha

We were only wondering how lucky a people could be by having variety of lovely cuisines all to themselves and some others at the verge of jealousy. How on earth could China have so much meat like lizards, toads, cockroaches, millipedes, wall geckos, bats and so on as proteins, using chopsticks as spoons. The reality struck with the news of Covid-19 Virus in China.

“Covid-19, is an acronym of Corona Virus and 19 means it was first known in the world on Dec 30, 2019. It is from a disease called zoonosis which is caused by pathogens. From animals to human beings. Corona Virus has been in existence and it is not new. Only that it is resident in animals like bats and snakes. If you make contact with these vectors, where the virus resides, you contact it. It does not kill the animals because they survive symbiotically. It kills humans because it is not the right environment where it should reside,” Dr. Dominic Ukpong, Commissioner for Health Akwa Ibom State.

After listening to the Health Commissioner, the jealousy for Chinese meals abated, vanished completely. Right now, there is no single mercy again for wall geckos, not to talk of considering it as a meal. Tafiakwa!!!

(Whispering): Did you not hear that there is a particular substance from toad which cures asthma. God dey!

Snake, bat, millipedes, cockroaches, butterflies, monkeys, toads and their counterparts shouldn’t be made contents of humans pots and plates as what they contained, can’t be contained in human body.

Could this indirectly be a resolution against dog-meat?

THE SCARE

The first reported case of the Virus in Nigeria was on February 27, 2020 and trust Nigerians, some were serious while others were so complacent about the development, especially when the alleged taxi driver who carried the infected Italian came public to debunk the claims and set the records straight. Worsen, the Italian man had no identity too.

Nigerians did not mind whoever brought the news and of course the health news was twisted to be some kind of strategy by Nigerian government to retire some funds.

Some aviation industries were intent with hand-sanitizing as a proactive measure against the pandemic; not with social distancing as at that time. Even now, it is yet to be confirmed if numbers of passengers are reduced per flight due to this outbreak.

Faith Country.

Our religious fathers have been up with intense prayers against the sickness not with total neglect to precautionary measures. But still challenging is the caution of physical distance.

SOCIAL OUTLOOK

Our market women seem not to understand the uproar! They go about their trading businesses with the sentiment “it is the elitists’ sickness.”

Yours truly overhead one, “Abasi ndito uwene abi mia mmo ufen ke afid akuk nnyin mmo eyibkpe ke Nigeria emi.” Simply meaning, God wants to punish the corrupt leaders for stealing resources which suppose to be used to better the lives of the poor.

Offensive to the hears it sounds, but they speak reassuringly that the sickness is not for the aged poor. Rather, God wants to humble all shielding themselves in upper hierarchical social classes.

Sickness no sabi whether you be poor…ooo or rich…ooo. Getting sensitize and using the right information remains paramount at this point.

In the early morning markets, especially Akpanandem market in Uyo, the markets women (buyers and sellers) were caught struggling for their wares not minding the social distance warning.

With the above scenario, you can’t affirm they even wash their hands regularly.

Schools, in a bid to catch up with schedule time of State Government for all schools to close their activities by end of the week, children are seen taking their examination in a compacted environment. Considering the proactive steps given by Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and Akwa Ibom State Government through its Ministry of Health to observe social distancing, many seem to be oblivious of the reality. To school management, the reality may be no space for such distancing and no desks to carry the students on such distance.

STATE EXECUTIVE ROLE

According to the Commissioner for Health, Akwa Ibom State, Dr. Dominic Ukpong, “Since 27th February, 2020 when the first case was reported in the country, I have been talking, holding press conferences, Radio interviews and jingles, meetings with Christian Association of Nigeria -Akwa Ibom Chapter, Traditional Rulers, Local Government Chairmen, Medical practitioners in the State and recently, the Governor, His Excellency, Mr. Udom Emmanuel made a live broadcast on this matter.

“Keeping 6ft away from another person, covering your mouth and nose with a mask and washing hands frequently with a running water forms part of basic tips to prevent this epidemic.”

The Commissioner said he will also within the week take the message of preventing the epidemic to the Market Women Associations and Motor-parks.

The reality of Akwa Ibom State being one of the coastline States in the South-South and most vulnerable zone with longest coastline, the Commissioner said entrances can not be totally monitored as people come in through the water-ways. He added that the lifestyle in the riverine area makes it easy for visitors to gain entrance into the State.

Though the State government is heightening campaign, Dr. Ukpong called on respective Local Government stakeholders to be involved in the campaign in their respective areas.

Akwa Ibom State Government says her readiness for emergency situation on disease outbreak dated back during the lassa fever outbreak and as at 2016, they built a Control and Prevention of Infectious Disease Centre. A task force of 88 people, mostly volunteers, was set up to man the centre. According to the report by the Commissioner for Health, there is an Ambulance delegated for any emergency situation and it is just a call away from any location in the State.

Contact numbers if any Covid-19 is suspected in your area are;
State Disease Surveillance and Notification Officer (DSNO) 08028442194; State Epidemiologist: 08037934966; Isolation Centre: 09023330092.
Also, wherever you are in Nigeria, the number to call if you suspect any Coronavirus case are; 080097000010 and 080097000010. It is toll-free, no charges.

In the other hand, bothered by the unpreparedness of the State Government concerning the virus, the healthcare workers in Akwa Ibom State under the auspices of Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM) and The Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria (AMLSN) in a communiqué of a meeting held recently over the laissez faire attitude of the State Government over the deathly Corona Virus, described government’s actions as unsatisfactory. They advised Government to effect a lockdown in the State to be able to prevent the Virus as attention should be given too to land and sea entrances to the State.

On the heels of the healthcare outcry, the State government on March 26, 2020 announced borders closure in the State with immediate effect as Ibom Air will suspend activities from March 29, 2020; State Government workers to stay at home from Monday, March 30, 2020; Government begs Churches to fast and pray on March 29, 2020 while Citizens and residents are urged to apply preventive measures.

Also, a task-force committee has been set up by Akwa Ibom State Government to enforce the compliance of preventive measures in gatherings of more than 10 persons.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT STAKEHOLDERS’ ROLE

The Commissioner for Health, Dr. Ukpong urged the Local Government Chairmen and the respective Traditional Rulers to take charge of their domain by taking the precautionary messages against the disease in local dialects to their communities; and also employ the services of a town-crier to facilitate the campaign.

ELITISTS’ SHARE

Recent news on the Social media may seem to confirm the market women’s sentiment that it is “elitists’ sickness.” The roll call increasing the number of infected persons in the country. The Governor of Bauchi State – Bala Mohammed and Abba Kyari (Chief of Staff to the President) added up to the cases in the country. Currently 65 cases in the country.


However, Presidency has made plans to fly Abba Kyari to Lagos for treatment and one wonders what happened to the three years N5.2 billion budgeted sums to refurbish Aso Villa Clinic. Between 2016 and 2018, Buhari’s Government budgeted for Aso Villa Clinic as follows; 2016 = N3.87b; 2017 = N331.7m; and 2018 = N1.03b; totalling N5.2 billion.

Lagos people wonder why them.

Meanwhile, it is obvious before the report, these persons must have had contacts with other dignitaries in the country, including Mr. President. He may be planning for Self-isolation now.

In Akwa Ibom, alarm has been raised in the State for some dignitaries to submit themselves for thorough medical screening having been back from training in one of the affected countries.

UPRISE MARKET

Already, prices of sanitizers have risen. The small size which used to go for between N300-N500 is now a N1,000 and above.

Nose mask also took its curve up while many fake sanitizers are in the market.

There is recent warning of taking a sanitize hands immediately close to fire. It is highly inflammable as it is alcohol based substance and the new ones in market have more alcoholic content.

THE NEWS CYCLE

Trust Nigerians, many have caught in. New songs already composed out of the situation. Fresh ideas of skits for comedians is also borne out of the quagmire. A sitting Senator, a former Governor of a State had to remove his mask to sneeze into the air and they had fun about it.

A lot of fake news have taken its toll on social media that unsuspecting members of the public are misinformed about the true state of the pandemic. This is why World Health Organisation (WHO) and NCDC are up with timely updates.

As at the time of this article, the Commissioner for Health, Akwa Ibom State, Dr. Dominic Ukpong said there has not been any confirmed case of the sickness in Akwa Ibom State.

Even as the reaction to what has befallen the world is multibladed, compounded with Nigeria’s joke, Akwa Ibom should not give in ground for jokes to prepare ahead. Our hearts goes out to Italy, China and other affected countries in the world and prayers offered for God’s intervention and the land to be healed.

Hopefully, we learn our lessons all in one case.

Hantavirus won’t survive with the wind of hope blowing as 113,000 patients recovered from Corona Virus across the globe.

WARNING: Please note, this article may not capture the entire happenings in the State as events on the Pandemic keep evolving each day.

#StaySafe
#KeepCoronaVirusout

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