NCDC boss in Rivers State, says lockdown can’t continue indefinitely
•State govt releases 22 arrested oil workers
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has said the prolonged lockdown nationwide could not continue indefinitely, insisting that stakeholders must begin gradual reopening of the economy.
Meanwhile, the 22 employees of Exxon Mobil who were arrested for violating the state’s order movement restriction have been released from an isolation centre in Port Harcourt.
The Director-General, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, made the submission during a meeting yesterday between Governor Nyesom Wike and officials of the centre at the Government House, Port Harcourt.
Lauding his host for his strong commitment to contain the COVID-19 pandemic in the state, he noted that in reopening the economy, conscientious efforts must be made not to endanger the population.
He urged the private sector to focus more on helping the states to build their capacity to respond to the virus.
Ihekweazu said he was in the state with the officer in charge of World Health Organisation (WHO) to engage with Rivers public health team to consolidate on the successes of the anti-coronavirus fight.
The NCDC boss reminded all that due to the unique nature of the disease that has assumed globally reckoning, every stakeholder must work concertedly to contain its spread.
Responding on behalf of the state government, the Commissioner for Health, Prof. Princewill Chike, requested for the establishment of a functional federal laboratory to test people for the ailment in Rivers.
He explained though the state was in the process of setting its own major laboratory, the strategic place of Rivers as the nation’s oil and gas hub requires a federal testing centre.
The Wike administration also called on the Federal Government to take immediate steps to stop oil companies from violating the order on restriction of movement.
The commissioner said since January, the state had recorded two cases with both patients already treated and discharged.
According to him, all the 214 persons except two that had contact with the index cases, and were placed under surveillance, had exited isolation.
He disclosed that the state has Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machines calibrated to the treatment of other major ailments before the outbreak of novel coronavirus, adding that order had been placed for the equipment that could detect COVID.
However, on the oil workers, the Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice, Rivers State, Professor Zaccheus Adangor, said they were arrested shortly after access the state from Akwa Ibom on Thursday and were released yesterday without charges.
The backpedal on their arraignment, he added, followed interventions by well-meaning Nigerians.
He explained that despite their release s, the state government remains committed to implementing the executive order issued by Governor Wike to check the spread of the virus.