By Odogwu Emeka Odogwu
Vice Chancellor, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka, Unizik, Prof. Charles Okechukwu Esimone, FAS, has said that with the level of preparedness the institution’s COVID-19 Response Committee has put in place the university is ready to welcome students back its campuses.
Prof Esimone spoke while declaring open the three-day training for members of the University management, principal officers and top senior staff of the University.
Prof. Esimone stated that the essence of the training was to prepare members of staff for full resumption of administrative duties while observing the necessary guidelines and protocols on COVID-19 pandemic.
Prof Esimone who is the first microbial pharmacist in the South East Geopolitical zone emphasized that COVID-19 is real and kills humans with no race and status in exemption.
Prof. Esimone said it was necessary that the training took place to keep the members of the University abreast on COVID-19, statistics available on the diseases and also on re-emphasizing preventive measures as well as the best practices at place of work, environment and interaction between one another to ensure the spread is reduced and fatalities nipped in the bud.
He emphasized on the need for leaders to be abreast of the COVID-19 protocols to be able to pass it down to their subordinates.
In his remarks, the moderator, Prof. Ikenna Onyido informed that issues on COVID-19 is grossly under reported, adding that he has been sceptical about the data and statistics of the government.
He raised an alarm at what he suspected was doctoring of data at NCDC as he has been, ‘suspicious’ of statistics from the government centre, as the corona virus pandemic is under reported.
Prof. Onyido said that COVID-19 is an unforeseen enemy and the extent of its diffusion in our community calls for the need for adaptation strategies in order to manage businesses, life and other spheres of human endeavour.
The Unizik Vice Chancellor had earlier called for a minute silence for the departed scholar, a member of the University Governing Council and Provost, College of Health Sciences, the late Prof. Okwudili Udemezue.
In his lecture later on “Reality of COVID-19 pandemic by Dr. Henry Madu Nwankwo”, he highlighted mode of decried the lack of capacity to test the coronavirus pandemic by various states particularly in the south east.
He equally doubted the authenticity of the NCDC results of the COVID-19 pandemic as according to him, there is need for more testing centres across the federation.
Dr Nwankwo from NAUTH informed that NAUTH had three bed facility isolation centre , tested 161 patients excluding NAUTH workers and of the number 25 (15.5 per cent) tested positive and 42 admitted while referring 88 patients. He said the NAUTH centre recorded 5 deaths even as 120 patients called for help.
He concluded, “we are not testing enough at all levels, be it at state and federal levels. There is need for more testing centres because the pandemic is not yet over,” even as he advocated for more testing.
Also her lecture entitled “Keeping Unizik Safe from COVID-19 pandemic’, Prof. Chinyere Stella Okunna described COVID-19 as the ‘father’ of all afflictions.
Prof Okunna of department of Mass Communication Unizik informed that her duty was to raise the alarm, raise the challenges since the pandemic is real for a collective action against spread because anything the COVID-19 Response Committee could not achieve with the management staff is impossible to be achieved with other groups yet to be trained.
She insisted that setting up the COVID-19 pandemic Response Committee was enough preparedness by the university to welcome back the students, hence leaders of various faculties and departments were engaged to convert doubting Thomases on the reality of the pandemic.
Meanwhile the Chairman UNIZIK COVID-19 Response Committee and Director Academic Planning, Prof. Joseph Ikechebelu has said that the university will ensure the full implementation of all COVID-19 safety protocols, directives and guidelines as the institution awaits return to normalcy all academic and administrative activities.
Prof Ikechebelu who spoke on “Implementing COVID-19 safety protocols in Unizik said that the institution is leaving no stones unturned in the fight against the dreaded pandemic ravaging the globe.
Prof. Ikechebelu stated that massive public enlightenment and information dissemination on COVID-19 precautions and safety protocols has been carried out by his Committee to stem the transmission of the virus on campus.
Prof. Ikechebelu emphasized that before this time, classrooms, offices and entire university premises have been appropriately disinfected as recommended per NCDC guidelines in July 2020.
The Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology posited that training and retraining of the institution’s front line health workers on precautions and management of COVID-19 cases has been carried out.
The scholar revealed that the University has a testing and training centre under construction about to be completed to serve the need for testing of COVID-19 and management/treatment of any reported cases.
He outlined some of the other actions management took to forestall spread on campus in accordance with guidelines from NCDC.
He said the Unizik COVID-19 Response Committee had provided sensitization, surveillance of campuses, logistics and supplies as well as rapid responses , research and development.
These were done through provision of hand washing facilities and hand sanitizer at all units, having spent N2 Million on that; provided infrared thermometer for monitoring of body temperature of staff and students even as more procured to be deployed.
The committee he died further had ensured compliance to wearing of face masks or no entry order complied with as well as production of branded Unizik face masks produced by Chike Okoli Center for Entrepreneurial studies (COCES) and distributed for free of charge by the committee.
Day two of the training had Prof Amechi Oyeka moderating and the training was for security personnel of the university while day three had works unit staff and commercial drivers in session as moderated by Prof Okey Ikpeze.
The Chairman planning committee and master of ceremony of the event , Prof Frank-Collins Okafor described the training as a huge success, recalling that the committee was set up by Vice Chancellor, Prof Esimone on May 4th ,2020 and they swung into action.