*Not considering closure of market
From Steve Oko, Umuahia
Abia State Government said it had placed order for the equipment for testing the dreaded coronavirus disease.
Commissioner for Information, Chief John Okiyi Kalu who announced this at a press conference in Umuahia said that Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu had already directed that the machines be acquired and installed in the state within one week.
The Commissioner who expressed fury that only three centres for testing of coronavirus “are currently available in the country”, blamed the federal government for the shortfall.
He said it was absurd for Nigeria with a population of over 180 million to have only three centres for testing a deadly pandemic like coronavirus, lamenting that such anomaly could slow down efforts to contain the spread of the pandemic .
Okiyi suggested that there should be at least one testing centre in every geopolitical zone to fast track confirmation or otherwise of suspected cases unlike the current arrangement where there are only three centres in Lagos , Abuja and Edo respectively.
He said that worried by this development, Abia State was determined to acquire and install the equipment at three different centres in the state “no matter the cost”.
Okiyi said the state was leaving nothing to chances although there was no case of the dreaded pandemic anywhere in the state.
The Commissioner also said Abia State had acquired 1000 digital thermometers for testing of body temperature.
He said the equipment would be deployed at entry points to the state as well as motor parks and public places although the decision on where to deploy them would be taken at a joint committee later in the day.
Okiyi further disclosed that the state government had distributed 60,000 face masks to hospitals and health centres across the state, adding that buckets and hand sanitizers had also been acquired for distribution to schools.
The Commissioner who expressed optimism that the deadly disease would not spread to Abia ,however, appealed to residents to observe the necessary protocols including regular washing of hands and social distancing.
He urged residents to immediately contact Abia Tele-Health in the eventuality of any suspected case of coronavirus for the evacuation of the victim to a nearby isolation centre.
The Commissioner said the state had already set up three isolation centres at the Abia State Teaching Hospital (ABSUTH) Aba, Amachara Specialist Hospital Umuahia, and the Federal Medical Centre, FMC Umuahia, adding that the fourth centre is underway at Abia North.
He said that besides the containment centres, the state had also provided four motorised clinics and seven ambulance for emergency cases.
On why the state was not considering shutting down markets in the state, Okiyi said such drastic measure would have serious consequence on the people.
He said it could create panic, starvation and lead to more deaths than the pandemic would ordinarily kill.
The Commissioner urged the people not to panic but put their confidence in God, assuring that with the measures already put in place by government, Abia residents will stay safe.