TEXT OF A STATE BROADCAST BY HIS EXCELLENCY, MUHAMMADU INUWA YAHAYA, THE GOVERNOR OF GOMBE STATE ON COVID-19 PANDEMIC RESPONSE IN GOMBE STATE ON TUESDAY, 14TH APRIL 2020.
1. My fellow residents of Gombe State.
2. It is with gratitude to Allah (SWT) that I address you once again on the topical issue of Coronavirus pandemic otherwise known as Covid-19.
3. As you are aware, the Covid-19 pandemic continues to ravage communities across the world, with devastating effect on human lives, livelihoods and their economies. Nigeria, is not spared from this invisible enemy that continues to defy physical boundaries or social status.
4. On our part, we took pro-active measures to prevent the importation of this virus into our communities, and equally prepared to detect and contain any possible outbreak or spread of the disease should it occur in our state.
5. As at this morning, there are 343 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Nigeria, spread across 19 States and the FCT. While 91 cases have been successfully managed and discharged, 10 deaths were recorded.
6. Fortunately, Gombe State still maintains a zero-case status and we pray and hope that the situation remains so. However, considering our strategic position as the commercial nerve center of the North East sub-region, the need for a sustained vigilance, enforcement and control becomes even more imperative. This is because our State continues to attract the movement of people, goods and services from other parts of the country, including States with confirmed Covid-19 cases such as Bauchi, Kano and the FCT all of which have historical, social, cultural and economic relationships with our people.
7. You will recall that on Monday 23rd, March 2020, I inaugurated a 23-member Task Force on Covid-19 in Gombe State, under the leadership of a renowned immunologist and public health specialist, Professor Idris Mohammed, in order to guide our response to the Covid-19 pandemic. So far, the Task Force has succeeded in achieving the following:
I. It has identified and prepared three centres for isolating Covid-19 patients as follows:
a) A 150-bed capacity hospital at Kwadon which has been fully renovated and furnished for the management of mild-to-moderate cases;
b) A 12-bed capacity Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the State Specialist Hospital, Gombe has been established and is fully equipped for the management of severe cases including mechanical ventilation and other intensive care needs;
c) A 50-bed capacity fully equipped facility at Federal Teaching Hospital, Gombe;
d) Additional isolation facilities are also being prepared at Funakaye and Kaltungo LGAs in order to ensure effective coverage of the state
II. The Task Force has procured over 200 Million Naira worth of medical supplies and consumables including personal protective equipment (PPEs), which have been prepositioned in all health care facilities across the state
III. It has built the capacity of our frontline health workers to enable them to detect and respond to any suspected case according to the guidelines issued by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC)
IV. It has carried out an intensive sensitization and mobilization activities aimed at raising the awareness of the general public on preventive
measures against the pandemic in all the 11 LGAs
V. In addition, Rapid response teams in all the 11 LGAs have been set up in order to manage suspected cases
VI. Arrangements have been concluded to establish a testing laboratory in the state. Already a PCR machine has been procured and we are currently engaging the NCDC with a view to obtaining the requisite accreditation.
8. Other measures we took to contain the spread of Covid-19 in Gombe State included the closure of schools, stay-at-home order for civil servants from Levels 1 to 12, closure of state boundaries and the ban on large social, economic and religious gatherings. These are going to remain in place and would be reviewed as the situation unfolds, based on the advice of public health experts, disaster management professionals, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and the Federal Government of Nigeria.
9. While compliance with the restriction order was to a large extent encouraging, we however, observed with dismay the attitude of some community members and security agencies in helping motorists to sneak into our State.
10. In addition, we also received reports of the influx of Almajirai into our communities from the neighbouring States. It is disturbing to note that many local Mallams are encouraging such migrations, thereby increasing the risk of importing the virus into our communities.
11. We appeal to all concerned to show more responsibility and patriotism. We shall continue to work with all stakeholders to ensure strict compliance with all restrictions and directives.
12. On the medical front, it is gratifying to note that we continue to receive reports of exposed individuals under our robust local surveillance system. I am impressed by the speed with which our response teams were mobilized to contact them and take necessary actions.
13. So far, the twenty-two suspected cases our teams identified and sent samples for testing at the NCDC Laboratory in Abuja, returned negative. This suggests that our risk mitigation measures are effective, and hopefully will continue to be so.
14. I would like to use this opportunity to pay special tributes to the State Task Force on Covid-19, our surveillance and response teams, and our entire health workers on the front-line as we continue to prepare against Covid-19 with remarkable commitment and sacrifice.
15. Regrettably, the Covid-19 pandemic has triggered an economic meltdown, which further deprives us the financial resources needed to adequately confront it. However, we are working with the Federal Government with a view to expanding existing palliative measures through the Social Investment Program and the development of new strategies in order to further cushion the effect of the crises on our people.
16. While we are putting measures in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19, we are aware of the impact some of these measures like a total lockdown could have on the livelihoods of our people, majority of whom live on daily wages.
17. As we continue to monitor and enforce the above restrictions, we will not hesitate to deploy more stringent measures when and where necessary. Our response will continue to be guided by empirical evidence and pragmatism.
18. I would like to thank our traditional rulers, religious and community leaders, members of the media and the civil society as well as other stakeholders for their support and understanding. Let me further solicit for their continuous support in this gigantic battle against coronavirus.
19. My special thanks also go to the Honourable Members of the state House of Assembly and all other political office holders who have contributed their one-month salaries to the fight against the pandemic.
20. I also appreciate other numerous public-spirited individuals and corporate organizations for their financial and material contributions. I will like to use this opportunity to appeal for more support from both individuals and organizations to further complement our effort against the Covid-19 onslaught.
21. The battle against Covid-19 pandemic can better be won by preventing its importation and spread into our communities through the enforcement of strict vigilance, observing recommended practices like hand-washing, social distancing and compliance with medical advice.
22. It is my hope that our people will continue to abide by the standard protocols issued by the Authorities.
- 23. Thank you for listening and may God keep us all safe.