I speak with you this afternoon with a sober heart but with trust in the Almighty that no matter how dark the night is, it must break into daylight. Since the beginning of the year, the coronavirus pandemic has proved to be the greatest challenge facing humanity. Undoubtedly, it is the biggest threat to the world as far as I know since I was born.
The COVID-19 disease has defied borders and demystified status. It afflicts the young and the old. It softens the nobility and aristocrats, just as it gives no hoot about the lowly nor people’s places or station in life. Contrary to the erroneous belief, this virus is not for the rich or elite alone, everyone is at risk. No country is immune and that is why we are all in it together. Indeed, we are all in a global village. No country is isolated. No North, no South.
We are confronted with a deadly enemy and must jointly find an end to this unprecedented pandemic.
- Since it hit Wuhan, China in December, 2019 no nation has been at peace. The devastating effect of this invisible killer is seen in all facets of our existence: economies are receding, authorities are being demystified, business deals are truncated, relationships getting complicated, and the privileged become instantly frustrated and depressed at the mention of its name.
- COVID-19, according to experts, is caused by an emerging strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans, belonging to the same family of viruses responsible for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). Since its declaration as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) on 30th January, 2020, and subsequently as a Pandemic on 11th March 2020, by the World Health Organisation, the Nigerian Government has closely monitored the outbreak with corresponding commitment like most nations of the world.
- And so today, I feel a compelling need to update you, specifically on our State’s Preventive, Containment and Treatment Strategies. We have taken and are taking several measures since the index case was spotted on our shores on the 28th of February, 2020. The case is a 44-year-old Italian expatriate worker who came for business in our State. We remain indebted to our team, working with the patient’s company, for their vigilance, commitment and professionalism with which the index was promptly identified, isolated and tested before being transferred to Lagos for treatment.
- But for the effective response of our team, contact tracing and isolation of those who came in contact with the index case, the virus could have spread widely and faster across the country through our borders with all the South West States (except Ekiti), and an international border with the Republic of Benin. Between then and now, 111 cases have been reported in Nigeria. Though Ogun State has had only three confirmed cases, we cannot be complacent. Our proximity to Lagos, the COVID-19 hotspot in Nigeria, means that we are vulnerable to community spread from there.
- So far, we have been fighting the disease with all resources – human, material and even spiritual – at our disposal. With the rampaging disease, we know we cannot do it alone. That’s why we have to enroll the support of everyone. We have seen that in most of Europe, North America and Asia with the best of healthcare, technology and personnel, efforts to halt the spread of this virus have been unprecedented, yet results are not commensurate with efforts. The fatality rate reminds one only of Armageddon. If countries that have much touted good health care systems are in real danger, then we must continuously ramp up our efforts to flatten the spread of the scourge and tame the dreaded virus. That’s why I’m addressing you today to update you and solicit for the cooperation and support of us all to wrestle the virus to the ground together.
- To slow the spread of the disease, we addressed the good people of Ogun State via a press conference on the day the index case was reported. We reassured them of our commitment and readiness to combat the challenge headlong.
- With our pragmatic team and committed staff of the State Ministry of Health in collaboration with Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), World Health Organization (WHO) and other relevant partners, we implemented the following:
a. All contacts of the index case, forty in all, were identified, located, listed and quarantined
b. The state’s Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) was activated immediately to coordinate a multi-disciplinary and multi-sectoral response through seven key pillars – (1) Coordination (2) Surveillance and Epidemiology (3) Risk Communication and Social Mobilization (4) Case Management (5) Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) (6) Logistic and (7) Laboratory.
We have been holding daily meetings together with all relevant partners to review developments, take decisions and deploy resources appropriately.
c. The capacity of the Emergency Preparedness and Response Team at both State and LGA levels has been strengthened. Twenty (20) Medical Officers of Health, Disease Surveillance and Notification Officers (DSNO) and their assistants, Health Educators, and Environmental Health Officers were trained from each of the 20 LGAs.
d. We have trained four hundred and twenty-six (426) health personnel in public, private and paramilitary health facilities (doctors, nurses, laboratorians, environmental health officers etc.) on COVID-19 Infection, Prevention and Control (IPC)
e. Eleven (11) Medical Laboratory Scientists have been trained on COVID-19 sample collection
f. We have focused on ensuring transparent communication with the public and have been running campaigns on print and social media to promote the prevention and early detection of COVID-19 infection.
g. We have established multiple means by which the public can contact the Ogun State Ministry of Health. These include a facebook account and twitter handle @OGCovid19Update. We also initiated Public health hotlines, operational 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and can be reached on the following toll free number 0800 123 5678.
h. Over a hundred thousand (100,000) Information Education and Communication (IEC) materials were produced and distributed to health facilities, schools, churches, mosques, workplaces and general community. Poster support was also received from partners such as WHO and the Nigeria Medical Association
i. Reinforcement of our borders to eliminate all possible threats through our surveillance network together with Port Health Services staff at the land borders. Just last week, we facilitated the movement from the Idiroko border of stranded indigenes of other states to their respective states of origin with security escorts.
j. Information exchange on Persons of Interest (POI) (travelers from other countries whose destination is Ogun state). A total of 1,002 persons were screened in the last one week including passengers and persons crossing the borders on foot.
k. Procurement and distribution of Personal Protective Equipment for our health workers and Isolation facilities.
l. In order to tackle the challenge of short supply of hand sanitizers, we engaged the Pharmacy Department in Ogun State Hospitals Management Board to produce hand sanitizers for distribution to our hospitals for use by frontline health workers. Over 100,000 bottles of sanitizer are being produced for distribution to the 20 LGAs.
m. Through the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, we have mapped our industries with expatriates and has commenced sensitization of their medical and general staff on COVID-19 infection, detection, prevention and control measures.
n. In our search for suitable facilities that we can quickly deploy as COVID-19 Isolation and Treatment Centers, we assessed and evaluated several options across the state, including the intended 250-bed hospital under construction in Abeokuta that only has 40 beds delivered; existing hospitals and other public buildings. The Assessment Team concluded that the following facilities could be immediately deployed in the short term.
These are the purpose-built 21 bed isolation and treatment centre at Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital (OOUTH), Sagamu; 100 bed capacity General Hospital Iberekodo, Abeokuta, and this Isolation and Treatment Centre in Ikenne with 128 bed capacity. The Ikenne facility though not within a hospital will benefit from the technical, logistics and manpower support from two tertiary health facilities – Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital (OOUTH), Sagamu and Babcock University Teaching University, Ilisan which are both are less than 10-minutes drive away. In the medium to long term plan of the state, we are in discussions with the contractor of the 250-bed hospital, to determine the possibility of the facility becoming available in the shortest possible time. Also available to us are a 30-bed facility donated by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and a 40 bed facility donated by Mr. Fola Adeola for isolation of suspected cases till they are confirmed. In total, we have a over 300 beds for isolation and treatment. It should be noted that whilst there are a few suspected cases being tested, there is only one active case of the infection in our state as I speak.
o. In addition, the state has also mapped the following health facilities that could be easily prepared and deployed in an unlikely event of the existing 300 bed spaces being exhausted. These include 523 Primary Health Care facilities, 42 secondary facilities, 3 tertiary facilities and 690 private health facilities with 7,082 health care workers (including 531 doctors and 2,206 nurses) across the 20 LGAs in the State.
p. Furthermore, all the Local Government Chairmen have been directed to identify suitable facilities such as event/social centres, school halls, community halls, in their respective areas that could be easily prepared and deployed as COVID-19 treatment facilities in the event of a surge in the corona virus cases in the State.
q. These facilities that we emplacing are not just to cope with any surge (we pray not) in our state but the likely overflow from our next door neighbours – Lagos. This is a collective fight and this is time to support each other and work as part of a national effort to confront a common adversary.
r. The State has procured additional vehicles for intensified COVID-19 surveillance
s. In light the attendant risk of community transmission and to enforce social distancing, on the 18th of March, 2020, the Government found it expedient to ban all high-density gatherings that would bring together 50 or more people. This has since been lowered to 20 – persons in the same place, such as social clubs, halls, cinemas, night clubs, restaurants, cafes, and sport arenas. This measure will be in effect till 18 April in the first instance.
t. Exactly, a week ago, 23rd of March, 2020, to be precise, the government directed all Heads of State Ministries, Departments and Agencies and Local Governments to draw up rosters that would ensure that not more than 20 percent of staff across all cadres work daily, thus ensuring that most staff come to work once a week. Also, all teachers in Public Primary and Secondary Schools were asked to proceed on their vacation immediately.
u. We have put on hold, until further notice, visit to all our offices, except for those that are COVID-19 solution related and emergency situations only.
v. Banks, Telecommunications and other similar service providers were compelled to ensure that not more than 20 clients are attended to at once inside their halls and bays.
w. Social distancing is also applicable at all Automated Teller Machine (ATM) Points, where operators must also provide wipes, hand-washing facilities and sanitisers for seamless use by clients.
x. We engaged the leadership of all gated markets, shops and malls to control entry to ensure a maximum of 20 people could congregate at each trading point at every point in time within the markets or shops
y. All Taxi cabs were also directed to carry not more than THREE passengers at once; with a maximum of two at the back; Tricycles are to carry a maximum of TWO passengers at the same time, while Motorcycles (popularly called okada) are limited to ONE passenger and the rider must use nose mask and Buses are limited to TWO persons per row while standing, squatting, lapping or hanging are not allowed at all.
z. We encouraged all unions at all intra/interstate motor parks in the state to ensure that temperature of drivers, conductors and passengers is taken and those above the threshold are not allowed to drive or travel and Drivers and conductors are to wear hand gloves and nose masks through the duration of trips. These measures apply to all vehicles, irrespective of the ownership or use (commercial, private or company). Indeed, it is advisable that windows of vehicles are wound down to allow free air circulation, when in use, with minimal use of air-conditioners, unless where it becomes absolutely inevitable.
- After consultation with the Presidency, the interstate and international borders will close tonight at 11.00pm as directed by the President. However, the total lockdown of the state will be effective from 11pm on Friday, 3rd April, 2020. This is to enable us finalise the mechanisms for the distribution of relief materials and food items ahead of the total lockdown.
- We appeal to our people to abide by these government orders, and the advisories provided by the ministry of health on hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene and social distancing. These include:
• Wash hands with soap under running water or use an alcohol-based sanitizer if water is not available.
• Cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Dispose of the used tissue immediately.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
• Maintain at least 1 and half metres (5 feet) distance away from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
- Our Government is conscious of the implications and discomfort associated with these measures. Nonetheless, we are constrained to do this because the available options are limited. Not taking these measures would have dire consequences. Coronavirus has upturned people’s lives and destinies and we have to fight with everything that we have, including stepping down our individual preferences and freedoms. These restrictions will be kept under constant review. We will relax them if the evidence makes it compelling. The restrictions are without prejudice to the need for people to reasonably move within their neighbourhoods to buy essentials such as food, drugs and access healthcare, as contained in Regulation 8 of Ogun State Corona Virus Disease (Emergency Prevention) Regulations 2020.
- Let me now unveil new strategies to further flatten the curve of the spread, isolate and treat any positive case, and provide relief and succour to our people, in this trying time.
a. Arrangements are at an advanced stage to establish our own biomedical laboratory so that we can test suspected cases in the state without going to Lagos or Abuja. This laboratory which will be in place by this weekend will minimize the test turn-around time which currently is between 3 – 5 days and fast-track the treatment of positive cases. It will also reduce period of apprehension and anxiety for those suspected of infection and their relations.
b. To cushion the effect of the lockdown on our citizens, when finally ordered, food items and other palliatives will be provided in the next few days. The government is working out the modalities and engaging relevant stakeholders to particularly identify the poor and vulnerable groups and to ensure that the palliative and relief items reach the intended beneficiaries at the grassroots level.
c. During the period of this lockdown, all markets, motor parks, public squares and high human-traffic areas will be fumigated and disinfected.
d. To support the new facilities unveiled today, the state has procured five (5) ambulances.
e. In furtherance of the earlier directive requiring not more than 20% of the state’s workforce to be at work, government now directs that ALL public servants in Ogun State should work from home, except those on essential services.
f. The government hereby appeals to all retired health workers, those in the private sector and volunteers to come forward and make their services available to complement the efforts of our core medical and paramedical personnel.
g. To ensure that education of our future generation is not disrupted, we have since activated our virtual learning on Ogun State Television (OGTV) and also available online at www.ogundigiclass.ng.
h. We are also deploying technology to provide access to healthcare and health information to people through telemedicine
i. A number of our people have approached us for an opportunity to donate their widow’s mite to the COVID-19 relief efforts is highly commendable and welcome. We are in discussions with Telecos and technology firms for the deployment of USSD code and web-based platforms to help facilitate such donations
j. Distribution of hand sanitisers has commenced. We have just taken delivery of new batches that will also be distributed immediately across the 236 wards of our state.
k. The Task Force on the enforcements of the measures to curtail and contain COVID-19 has been further charged to ensure total compliance. I enjoin all citizens to be law-abiding and fully adhere to the measures in place.
15.Before I conclude, let me express gratitude to private individuals, corporate organisations and religious bodies that donated funds and property to aid the State Government’s fight against the spread of the COVID-19. These include but not limited to former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo; the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Pastor Adejare Adeboye for making available for use their fully kitted ICU facilities ; the Chairman of BUA Group of companies, Alhaji Abdulsamad Rabiu; and the Founder of Fate Foundation, Mr. Fola Adeola. I enjoin other well-meaning Nigerians to join forces with us to drive this disease under. This is a trying period for humanity, our nation and our dear state. Borders may be closed, lockdowns may be in place, social distancing may be in force, but our hearts must reach out to each other and our purses must open to generously give of ourselves to ourselves. I trust our State can count on people of goodwill and charitable disposition (and they are in abundance) at this challenging time to save many from the rampaging and ravaging virus. Let us not succumb to this virus.
- On behalf of our Government, I promise that these resources will be put to the judicious fight against this virus. We shall together fight it by deploying these resources to turn the tide against this virus.
- We will continue to be prompt and proactive about identifying, isolating and treating those tied down by COVID-19. I thank all of you – health workers and private citizens obeying all the precautionary measures to deal a blow on this dreaded virus. Everyone should join hands with our Government to halt the spread of this disease and to save many thousands of lives under the shadow of death.
Let me now thank most sincerely, on behalf of the government and people of Ogun State, all those who have sacrificed their comfort and even put their own health at risk in this fight against COVID-19. The list includes the State’s Health Team ably led by the Honourable Commissioner for Health, Dr. Tomi Coker; WHO NCDC, and other development partners. Our Infrastructure Teams from Ministres of Works and Infrastructure, Housing, Environment, Power and Energy Board, and indeed other government agencies and officials, and the contractors who worked round the clock in the last few days to deliver the Isolation and Treatment facilities across the state. You should all be proud of your efforts – you are not just serving the state, you are serving humanity.
Together, we can, and we will, beat coronavirus and it is by , beating the virus that we can build our future together.
17.Thank you all for listening and God bless.
Igbega Ipinle Ogun, Ajose Gbogbo Wa Ni
Prince Dapo Abiodun MFR
Governor of Ogun State, Nigeria
Monday, 30th March, 2020.