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Plateau shuts schools, convenes emergency stakeholders meeting

By Isa Abdulsalami Ahovi, Jos
21 March 2020   |   4:13 am
Plateau State Government has directed that pre – primary, primary, secondary schools and tertiary institutions in the state should close latest today (Saturday, March 21) for fear of the dreaded and deadly coronavirus.

Corona Junction Of Plateau State Stigmatised 
Plateau State Government has directed that pre – primary, primary, secondary schools and tertiary institutions in the state should close latest today (Saturday, March 21) for fear of the dreaded and deadly coronavirus.

Government has also directed that all forms of overseas trips be put on hold till further notice, be it conferences, seminars, workshops and ceremonies.

Secretary to the Government of the State, Prof. Danladi Atu, in a statement yesterday, also directed Plateau citizens to continue to adhere strictly to safety measures and public enlightenment programmes being issued by the State Ministry of Health in order to curb the spread of the disease.

Meanwhile, the youths living at Corona Junction, Yelwa Club Side, Bukuru in Jos South Local Council of the state protested yesterday for being stigmatised as “Coronavirus Junction Peddlers of the disease.”

The youth, through their leader, Pam Andrew, vehemently insisted that they are not living with the virus as they have been living in the area for decades now.
However, the state government, yesterday, convened a meeting comprising chairmen and secretaries of the Jama’at Nasril Islam (JNI) and CAN, First Class and Second Class traditional rulers in the state, President, Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) Plateau State chapter; Dean, Faculty of Medicine and others.

University of Jos, Chief Medical Directors of Jos University Teaching Hospital and Plateau Specialist Hospital and representatives of private hospitals, heads of Christian denomination and Islamic Sect, President and Secretary of Plateau State Market Association, Chairman and Secretary of Plateau State Elders’ Forum to find a way forward on the virus.

The Plateau State Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) says whatever has a beginning will definitely have an end as it was sympathising with the countries that are badly affected by the coronavirus, praying that the Lord will comfort the families that have lost their beloved ones and healing to those infected and those quarantined.
State chairman of the association, Rev. Soja Bewarang appreciated the positive and pro – active measures the Federal and in particular the Plateau State governments have taken to prevent the spread of the virus.
In view of the threatening nature of the epidemic that has resulted in the shut down of major activities worldwide, Bewarang is calling on church leaders not to take the threat lightly but provide proper enlightenment and necessary precautionary measures should be extended to members and churches.
He advised that the use of sanitisers must be encouraged at the entrances of worship and meeting places.
The meeting, presided over by the State Deputy Governor, Prof. Sonni Tyoden, was principally convened to find ways of how the pandemic could be tamed.
The participants at that meeting said the issue of hand washing sanitisers should be taken seriously.
The Chief Medical Director (CMD) of JUTH, Prof. Edmond Banwat disclosed that the hospital has the best hand sanitisers which other states have been coming to buy them.
But the traditional rulers said that whatever government decided would be supported by them; adding that they would enlighten their members at the grassroots and commended government for organising the meeting.
The doctors invited told the stakeholders that the virus is very pandemic, adding that the preventive measure to be taken is to embark on constant washing of hands, adding that all entrances of worship centres (Mosques and Churches) should have hand sanitisers.

After contributions from various stakeholders, Tyoden said that a comprehensive statement on the way forward would be issued later, directing that the campaign on hygiene should be stepped down to the grassroots.
“Is it now that you are likening the disease to our Junction because of Coronavirus? This is very unfortunate. Nigerians should learn to be civilised,” Andrew stated.
However, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has stressed that the coronavirus could be maintained in order to avoid stigmatising at a particular group, animal or nutrition.
The 36th Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference of the Association of Public Health Physicians of Nigeria (APHPN) tagged Jos 2020 kicked off yesterday at Eliel Event Centre, Jos, with its National Chairman, Prof. Benjamin Uzochukwu, regretting that some of the members of APHPN chickened out of the conference because of being infected by Coronavirus otherwise known as Covid – 19.
Uzochukwu said that some of their members were pressurising him that the conference be shifted to a later date because of the present health challenges globally, adding that some were even calling for outright cancellation of the conference which he said he responded to as needless. Curiously many members turned up for the conference.
The theme of the conference was, “Epidemiologic Transition and Implication for Public Health Practice.”
He, however, advised that Nigerians should be mindful of the recent coronavirus disease outbreak in Nigeria. He commended members of the association and the Federal Ministry of Health, through Nigeria Centre for Disease Control for their effort so far in containing the outbreak.
“We should all take care of our health and maintain hand and respiratory hygiene in our health facilities and work places to protect ourselves and others, including our own families,” he stated.
The national chairman urged people to stay at home if they feel unwell with symptoms like fever, cough and difficulty in breathing and gave the number 08097000010 as it is a toll free number which is available day and night, warning that people should not engage in self medication.
Welcoming the guests earlier, Chairman of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) of the general meeting, Dr. Moses Chingle, said that this year’s conference is unique in that they introduced a pre – conference medical outreach on Monday which he said was in conjunction with the 3 Armoured Division of the Nigerian Army, Jos.
Chingle said that indigent patients were attended to and free consultations, screening and treatment were given to them.
The LOC chairman also said that they are very mindful of the current pandemic of Covid – 19 that is spreading like wild fire and the Lassa Fever epidemic whose occurrence has become regular across the country.
According to him, “The LOC has put down modalities to take appropriate history of travels and basic screening of all participants. We crave your indulgence to cooperate with the medical team for our own safety and protection.”
The second session would witness the Guest Speaker, Prof. Mohammed Sambo, the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) who was billed to speak on the theme of the conference.