The Rivers State Government says there is no plan to ban international flights into Port Harcourt as a result of the Coronavirus infections; adding that it has no intention to close any Chinese restaurant in the state.
The Acting Permanent Secretary of the state Ministry of Health, Dr. Chinwe Tonye-Atata, who disclosed this when she appeared as guest on a live radio programme in Port Harcourt monitored by The Tide, yesterday, said the state was collaborating with the Federal Government and relevant agencies to check the spread of the virus.
Atata, who doubles as the director, Planning, Research and Statistics in the ministry said, “The Rivers State Ministry of Health and the Rivers State Government were also following what was being done at the federal level.
“So, it also depends on what is ongoing at the federal level,” she stated, noting that the state government through the Ministry of Health is collaborating with multi-sectoral stakeholders to observe international protocol with respect to control and treatment of Coronavirus also known as COVID-19.
She also said that the state government was closely monitoring the outbreak of the disease in Lagos, and assured people of the state of their public health safety.
“So far and for the avoidance of doubt, there is no case of COVID-19 in Rivers State. However, we have raised our preparedness level for COVID-19. In Rivers State, we are on alert mood. We are not scared because we know that a lot has been put on the ground.
“It is not true that the state government plans to ban international flights or close down Chinese restaurants in the state. If we start from the ports, you find out that the Rivers State Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health and also the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) are working together to ensure that the entry points are safe.
“There is now maximum surveillance ongoing at the airports and the seaports. At the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, we have different levels of surveillance.
“We have first, the in-flight assessment in which forms are given to all travellers coming into the state. After that, there is also the aspect where if there is anybody that has cough or any respiratory infection or is severely ill that is noticed, he or she is immediately brought to the attention of the authorities.
“Then, you have a second level of checks in which as they come out, you have the terminal cameras. They are high level cameras and they are very specific for temperature checks.
“Apart from that, for those that are A-symptomatic, those that do not show symptoms but come from some of these areas (countries) that COVID-19 has been confirmed, they are kept in isolation areas after which we are informed. That is what is ongoing at the airport as of now,” Atata explained.
She further said that a technical working group has been reviewing the risks for importation of COVID-19 into the state, saying, “there is also an ad-hoc holding centre in place in case of any incident of Coronavirus in addition to a rapid response team that is also on red alert. They are doing simulations in case of any reported case.
“The state government is on track and ready to provide anything we need or require. His Excellency, the Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike is on alert and is doing all that is necessary to keep the state safe,” Atata stated, noting that the ministry would take the awareness campaign to churches, faith-based organizations and schools.
She further revealed that public health protocols at the state borders have also been strengthened, adding that, “check on contact tracing is on the standby”.
Similarly, the Rivers State Ministry of Health has assured that there was no case of Coronavirus in the state following a case of the virus which was confirmed in Lagos State, last Friday.
The Director, Planning, Research and Statistics in the ministry, Dr Chinwe Atata, who made this known at a press briefing at the Public Health Emergency Operational Centre of the ministry in Port Harcourt, said the ministry has strengthened surveillance at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, and will place all asymptomatic travellers coming from countries that have already been impacted by the virus on self-isolation, and closely monitor them.
Atata said a treatment centre has also been mapped out for the Coronavirus.
She called on Rivers residents to always maintain five meters distance from people who are sneezing and coughing, calling on health facilities to maintain a very strict infection control system.
Atata also dismissed insinuations that the state Ministry of Health cannot contain infectious disease spread because the ministry was yet to get a commissioner and a permanent secretary.
The full text of her statement, titled “Press Release On Preparedness For Disease Control, Rivers State: COVID – 19”, reads, “Following the confirmation of the first case of COVID – 19 in Lagos, Nigeria, it has become imperative to brief you on the state of preparedness and necessary preventive behaviour we should adopt in the interest of public health safety.
“COVID – 19 was first discovered in the Wuhan Province in China on December 31, 2019. Since then, there have been over 80,000 cases globally, mainly in China, with about 55 countries affected as at yesterday (Thursday).
“The risk of importation into the country was considered high, especially as a result of trade and travel traffic. The Rivers State Ministry of Health is working in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health (especially the Ports Health Services), the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and other relevant stakeholders to ensure maximum surveillance at all international entry points in the state. Surveillance at the International Airport, Omagwa, has been strengthened with multiple layers of screening from in-flight assessment to the use of thermal cameras for early detection of suspected cases as well as secondary screening for selected passengers.
“In line with our protocol, all asymptomatic travellers from impacted areas coming into the state are placed on self-isolation for the maximum incubation period of the disease, and monitored through the period at their destination within the state by assigned surveillance health officers without stigma.
“So far and for the avoidance of doubt, there is no case of COVID-19 in Rivers State.
“However, we have further raised our preparedness level for COVID-19 to ALERT mode with the establishment of multi-sectoral emergency preparedness Technical Working Group specifically dedicated to reviewing the risk for COVID importation and evaluating the response pattern as events unfold in the state.
“In addition, we have marked out an ad-hoc treatment centre for COVID-19 in case of any eventuality. Presently, the state rapid response team is reinforcing preparedness with simulations for evacuations and triage at this centre. We have in stock, sufficient quantities of commodities, especially Protective Personal Equipment (PPE) and supportive drugs for therapeutic interventions in case of further challenges.
“We still believe in the opportunities and the gains of prevention and early detection. To this end, we join the rest of the global community to advise as follows: Regular and thorough hand washing with soap and water (especially when soiled); the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer is also recommended.
“Maintain at least 1 and half meters (five feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing. Persons with persistent cough or sneezing should keep a social distance and not mix in crowd. Endeavour to practice good respiratory hygiene: when sneezing or coughing, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve at the flexed elbow. Then dispose-off the used tissue safely, immediately.
“Exposed persons should stay home if you feel unwell with symptoms like fever, cough and difficulty in breathing and notify relevant authorities immediately. All health facilities should ensure strict and appropriate IPC at all triage points. Citizens are further advised not to abuse social media and indulge in spreading misinformation that can cause panic and lead to danger.
“The Rivers PHEOC will continue to provide updates and pursue all necessary measures to ensure public health safety. There is therefore, no cause for alarm as the state government is taking care of the situation. For further information or enquiry, please call: 08056109538, 08031888093 and 08033124314”, the statement added.
Reacting, a medical expert and Founder of Mother Baby Care Global Foundation, Dr. Eli Sokarime lauded health authorities in Rivers State for the modalities put in place against the breakout of Coronavirus disease.
He said the spirited fight that Lagos State has demonstrated since last week’s report of the first incident in Nigeria from an Italian shows that the disease can be tackled.
He, however, lamented that the challenge remains that the country has only three test centres, hence the need to set up more facilities.
Sokarime warned that “though Ebola is more lethal than Coronavirus, nonetheless, the incubation period of Coronavirus is 20 days and has high index of suspicion”.
The medical doctor said for now, the virus does not have any cure as against claims in the media, and therefore, urged members of the public to report any symptoms that go with coughing, sneezing, diarrhea, high fever and difficulty in breathing to nearby health centres.
So far, the disease which started in China since December has claimed 3,000 lives with 80,000 infections in 55 countries.
Already, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared it a public health emergency, calling on all countries to evolve measures to tackle the malaise.
But despite the reported case of the virus in Lagos, some hospitals in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, have yet to start using hand sanitisers and other protective equipment like face masks.
Our correspondents, who were at different health facilities in the state capital, last Saturday, observed as patients walked into the various health facilities without being asked to wash their hands or use sanitisers.
At New Mile One General Hospital, a staff member said, “Currently, we have not brought out hand sanitisers at our lobby for patients, only our doctors and nurses inside use it.”
At Mgbundukwu Model Primary Health Care Centre, there was also no sanitiser available for patients and other visitors to the hospital.
A staff member, who did not disclose his name, said, “We used to have sanitisers in this health centre, but they were always stolen by patients.”
Also, at the Fortison Hospital along Iwofe Road, only one health worker was seen wearing a face mask, while others were working without protecting themselves.
At the laboratory section of the hospital, the laboratory scientist was seen working without hand gloves while taking the blood sample of a patient.
Similarly, Plateau State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Lar Ndam Nimkong said 43 persons including Chinese national have been isolated in mining sites in Wase Local Government Area of Plateau State.
He said among those isolated, were four Chinese National and 39 Nigerians who are working with the Chinese in the two mining sites.
Dr. Nimkong disclosed this yesterday during a press briefing with the Commissioner for Information and Communication, Hon. Dan Manjang in Jos and said the Chinese who came from China through Adis-Ababa to Abuja were examined and have no symptoms of Coronavirus.
He said: “The Governor of Plateau State, Rt. Hon. Simon Bako Lalong received a communication on Friday, 28 February 2020 from Nigeria Immigration Service that three Chinese National were in Plateau. We set up a committee urgently made up of our staff, WHO, Nigeria Immigration Service, the Police and DSS and went to Wase LGA immediately.
“On Saturday, 29 February, the team discovered that there were four Chinese and not three. They interviewed the leader who came on 25 February and three others came on the 26 February, 2020.
“They admitted that they came from China and flew to Adis-Ababa through Abuja to Wase Local Government Area in Plateau State. They showed their screening forms in Adis-Ababa and in Abuja and we told them that anybody who is coming from a country that has Coronavirus problem is a suspect until he proves otherwise.
“In Wase, the Leader was leaving in a compound with 24 other Nigerians who were working with him. They have a water source that the villagers come to fetch for drinking, both of them were isolated in the compound for 14 days, nobody is expected to go out and nobody goes in.
“The same thing in Baki-Kaya where there are three Chinese National and 15 Nigerians who are working with them, both of them showed their screening forms before coming into Nigeria, and we have asked that they should be isolated for 14 days also; with this, we have no case of Coronavirus in Plateau for now.”
He said the Military and other security personnel in the area have been directed to ensure that the people comply with the directive.
Commissioner for Information and Communication, Hon. Dan Manjang, who was with Ndam during the briefing, said that there is no known case of Coronavirus in the State.
According to him, “There is no known case of Coronavirus in Plateau State. You know, we have a mining site in Wase. There are Chinese nationals that are mining that site. Three of them came in from China via Ethiopia Airways via Abuja.
“Commissioner for Health in a swift reaction, sent a health team to go and isolate and investigate them. The investigation is supposed to take 14 days. We will now know after 14 days whether they did contact the virus or not.”
I’ll Provide Solid Representation, If Elected -Banigo
Rivers State Deputy Governor, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, has assured the people of Abua/Odual Local Government Area that she would provide undivided representation if voted into the Senate in 2023.
Banigo gave this assurance when leaders and critical stakeholders of the Peoples Democratic Party had a meeting with her, at the Government House in Port Harcourt to map out campaign strategies, yesterday.
The deputy governor said, she was excited that the meeting was held for the stakeholders to understand themselves, to ensure the party wins at the elections in 2023, adding that by the grace of God the local government area would be better than what it is now, if she emerges as the Rivers West senator.
In a related development, the Deputy Governor, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, who is the Rivers West Senatorial District Candidate of the PDP in the upcoming polls, has also met with leaders of the PDP in Ahoada East Local Government Area, where she urged them to reach out to their constituents and encourage the collection of PVCs.
“We must realize that with this new Electoral Act, the votes will surly count, as this 2023 election is not going to be like the previous elections, there will be a difference, people should not be afraid to pick up their cards and vote, they should not be lackadaisical about it, they should keep their cards safe and on the day of election they should come up and cast their vote, because this time every vote will count”.
She said the campaigns would be unit based and urged them to reach out to those in their units.
“Make sure you have unit executives in each of the wards, so we can have a door to door campaign”, Banigo said.
In his remarks at the meetings, the Vice Chairman of the Rivers West Senatorial District of the PDP, Dr. Nname Robinson Ewor, said there is a need for members of the PDP to go out and establish their presence in all units’ wards and constituencies, stressing that the nature of this upcoming election would be different from previous elections.
Ariolu, Others Welcome Ex-Deputy Guber Candidate To PDP
Chairman of Obio/Akpor Local Government Council, Barrister George Ariolu, has led other party faithful, including Chairman of PDP, Ward 6, Kingsley Nna; Chairman of PDP, Ward 9, Collins Wobo Chukwu; and Obio/Akpor PDP Secretary, Kingman Ogbonna; to receive a bigwig and stakeholder of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from Rumuogba in Ward 6, Chief Williams Igwe, into the PDP.
Receiving the former Deputy Governorship Candidate of the then Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) at the Obio/Akpor PDP Secretariat, Rumueme, Ariolu expressed delight over his decampment from the APC to the PDP, describing it as an indication that the party was waxing stronger.
Ariolu, who was greeted with euphoria by the LGA PDP Chairman, Chidi Amadi, who also welcomed the former deputy governorship candidate at the secretariat, promised to work closely with Igwe to build the party ahead of the forthcoming election.
He pointed out that the foundation of the PDP was built on togetherness, stating that collectively, the party would achieve more.
Ariolu thanked Igwe for wholeheartedly accepting to come back to the party.
According to him, Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has separated governance from politics following his relentless battle to promote the interest of Rivers people.
Also speaking, Chairman of the PDP in Obio/Akpor, Chidi Amadi, said the reception of Igwewas a fulfilment of an age-long dream, and a welcome development for members of the party, expressing joy over the event.
He further commended Ariolu for his strong support and leadership towards the sustenance and growth of the party.
In his remark, Chief Williams Igwe affirmed his loyalty and commitment to the PDP in its quest to oust the APC and fix the broken state of the country’s socio-economic and political fabrics.
He described the reception as a homecoming for himself and his supporters who would be formally received at a formal event which would be organised by the state party chairman, adding that PDP remains a major political party which will unite the nation.
He added that his decision to defect to the party was well-thought-out, and called on others to join hands with the Rivers State Government to rebuild the socio-economic fortunes of the state.
According to him, he believed that it was time for him to cross over to join hands with the Rivers State governor in moving the state forward.
The former Deputy Governorship Candidate was also received by PDP Chieftain, Barrister Temple Ejekwu; Obio/Akpor PDP Woman Leader,Gloria Wonodi; Barrister Kelvin Akani; and members of Obio/Akpor PDP Executive.
By: Nelson Chukwudi
NNPC Posts N674bn Profit
The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC Ltd) has declared a profit after tax of N674billion for the financial year ended December 31, 2021.
The profit represented a growth of 134.84per cent when compared with N287billion profit in 2020 which was recorded under the old Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
The Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO), NNPC Ltd, Malam Mele Kyari, said this at a news conference, yesterday, in Abuja.
“NNPC progressed to a new performance level, from N287billion profit in 2020 to a N674billion profit after tax in 2021 climbing higher by 134.8per cent year on year profit growth,’’ he said.
Kyari also said that it recorded an increase in total assets from N15.86trillion in 2020 to N16.27trillion in 2021.
Speaking on the group’s financial position, Kyari said the corporation’s total liabilities decreased by 8.3per cent to N13.46trillion during the review period from N14.68trillion in 2020.
The GCEO said its shareholders funds position rose N2.81trillion representing 144per cent year-on-year.
“The performance would have been greater if the operations in the year under review were free from incessant vandalism, crude oil and products theft, among others.
“Details of the performance of NNPC and the respective subsidiaries as well as that of National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS) will be published on our website www.nnpcgroup.com for stakeholder’s perusal.
“We look forward to achieving greater performance to support our growth aspirations and to create more value for our stakeholders as we drive full commercial operations under NNPC Ltd.,’’ he said.
He recalled that in September 2021, President Muhammadu Buhari approved the publication of the 2020 NNPC Group Audited Financial Statement, in which NNPC declared a profit after tax of N287billion for the first time in 44 years.
Kyari said that in spite of the challenging operating environment, it strongly believed that the corporation had the potential to sustainably deliver better value to it esteemed shareholders.
He said it sought to become a dynamic global energy company of choice to its customers, partners and over 200million shareholders comprising of all Nigerians.
Kyari noted that the corporation in 2019 rolled out deliberate policies and initiatives aimed at reducing costs and eliminating losses while adopting technology to entrench transparency, accountability and performance excellence (TAPE) across its various functions.
He said the NNPC had recorded significant improvement over the past three years, turning up the curve from losses to profits.
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