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Over 49 health officials contract COVID-19 as Enugu cases rise by 68

By Lawrence Njoku (Enugu) and Collins Osuji (Owerri)
24 June 2020   |   4:20 am
Shortly after the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH) unveiled a COVID-19 Testing Centre in Enugu, the state government yesterday confirmed 68 new cases of the virus.

Ikechukwu Obi

‘Leadership recklessness responsible for spread in Imo assembly’

Shortly after the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH) unveiled a COVID-19 Testing Centre in Enugu, the state government yesterday confirmed 68 new cases of the virus.

It also disclosed that 49 of the cases so far recorded were health workers managing those who had contracted the virus in the state. State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Ikechukwu Obi, who confirmed the development, stated that the state now had 144 confirmed cases of which 110 were active, 29 discharged and five deaths recorded.

“COVID-19 is real. No individual category has been spared by the pandemic as men, women, children, old and young, people of every profession and socio-economic class have been affected,” he stressed.

Among those affected in the state was a lawmaker, Chijioke Ugwueze (PDP, Isiuzo), whose death last week led to closure of the House of Assembly. Speaker of the House, Edward Ubosi, who ordered the closure of the chambers, as a precautionary measure, invited health authorities to decontaminate the Assembly Complex, as he also suspended plenary until further notice.

Obi, however, assured that health workers would continue to do their best under the prevailing circumstances and urged the people to reciprocate efforts of health workers by seeking help when the need arose and obeying safety protocols established by health experts.

Besides, the state government approved an Ad-Hoc Expert Medical Advisory Committee on urgent and effective measures for de-escalation spread of the pandemic, as recommended by the state chapter of Nigeria Medical Association (NMA).

A statement by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Professor Simon Uchenna Ortuanya, revealed that the committee would engage with leaders of religious groups, market and professional associations, labour unions and the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), among others in its quest to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Meanwhile, a former member of the Imo State House of Assembly, Lawman Duruji, has blamed the recent spread of coronavirus among the lawmakers on leadership recklessness, insensitivity and negligence.

Following the scare of the virus in the House last week, the state government shut down the Assembly Complex for two weeks. After samples of the lawmakers, their aides and employees of the assembly were taken on the directive of the Speaker, Chiji Collins, the result from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), at the weekend revealed that some of the lawmakers tested positive for the virus.

Duruji, who represented Ehime Mbano in the assembly, told The Guardian on Telephone that the situation could have been averted if the House had not reconvened amid the ravaging pandemic.

He argued that there was no urgent need for the House to continue to convene against international and national warning, adding that the use of one microphone during plenaries may have facilitated the spread among members.

Duruji said the development would further expose members of the public to the disease and urged more stringent measures from the government to contain the spread of the virus and safeguard people’s lives.