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Coronavirus death toll hits 35 in Edo State

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Rising cases of the disease, gender violence worry UN, EU

Edo State Government has said the death toll arising from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has hit 35, with nearly 1,000 persons infected in the state. Commissioner for Health, Dr. Patrick Okundia, who spoke to journalists in Benin City, charged citizens to support the government’s efforts at curbing the spread of the virus by complying with precautionary protocols.He reiterated the need for the use of face masks, regular handwashing with soap, use of alcohol-based hand sanitisers and physical distancing as preventive measures.

“Complying with these directives will imply that we care about the wellbeing of others, especially the elderly, and are determined to protect them from getting infected by the deadly virus that has continued to claim thousands of lives globally,” he said.

According to him, the state government has taken serious steps to contain the pandemic across all communities in the state. “But we have observed poor compliance among members of the public towards COVID-19 preventive measures. This is even as some give out wrong addresses and phone numbers during sample collection, which makes it difficult for contact tracers to track down confirmed cases after laboratory results are released.”

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Edo has so far recorded 962 cases, 5,838 suspected cases, 2,577 line-listed contacts, 347 persons of interest (POIs) and 35 COVID-19-related deaths, while 277 patients have been discharged.

MEANWHILE, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has raised concern over the growing rate of COVID-19 and Gender-Based Violence (GBV) cases in Nigeria.
UNICEF made this known yesterday at the opening ceremony of a two-day Media Dialogue on Ending Violence Against Children, Women and Girls in Cross River and Ebonyi states by European Union and United Nations Spotlight Initiative (SI) and Ebonyi chapter of National Orientation Agency (NOA) in Enugu State.

The Chief of Field Office, UNICEF, Enugu, Dr. Ibrahim Conteh, said, “In Nigeria, we need to brace up because of the way things are going.”He said Nigerians thought that because of environmental factors, “the virus could not spread as it should; but that is not the case. We need to step up our preventive practices.”

Conteh expressed satisfaction that COVID-19 fatality in the country was lower than it was at the beginning due to awareness from experts and government.The message of COVID-19, he added, resonates in big cities. “But in villages, people do not care, and when you are complacent, it will be difficult to manage. What is happening now is community transmission, and the media has a big role to play on this for the message to get to the communities.”

On her part, the UNICEF Communication Specialist, Enugu Field Office, Mrs. Ijeoma Onuoha-Ogwe, noted that more women and girls were becoming victims of GBV in the country amid the COVID-19 lockdown than it used to be.

She said, “Cross River and Ebonyi states have very high cases of GBV, not that it is not happening in other parts of the country or the world; but it has become pertinent that Spotlight Initiative, in collaboration with NOA, Ebonyi State, bring this to the fore, for it to be looked into.”Some sections of the constitution need to be amended to tackle the phenomenon and bring an end to it, she added.

Child Protection Specialist of UNICEF, Victor Atuchukwu, said there were reasons SI decided to pilot the GBV intervention programmes in the select states.He advised journalists to always consider the survivors by portraying the right narratives instead of painting them as victims.

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