PRESS BRIEFING BY PROF. DANLADI ABOK ATU, SECRETARY TO THE GOVERNMENT OF PLATEAU STATE & COORDINATOR PLATEAU STATE TASK FORCE ON COVID-19 ON 28TH JULY, 2020.
1. Gentlemen of the media, I welcome you to this press briefing which is primarily to give you an update on our fight against the Corona virus pandemic in Plateau State.
2. You will recall that since the lifting of the lockdown and movement restrictions was announced by the Executive Governor, Rt. Hon. (Dr.) Simon Bako Lalong, the major charge was for residents of Plateau State to take personal responsibility for their health and that of others.
3. The Governor also directed the mandatory use of face masks in all public places as well as adherence to other guidelines such as social distancing, use of hand sanitizers and hand washing among others.
4. In addition, the Governor directed that more public enlightenment and publicity be carried out along with community engagement so as to have the buy-in of all stakeholders.
5. The Governor also made efforts to increase the Covid-19 testing facilities in the State. I am happy to inform you that as at today, we have 3 testing centres in Plateau State located at the NVRI Vom, Plateau State Specialists Hospital and the Jos University Teaching Hospital.
6. This has greatly enhanced our testing capacity and enabled us to know the extent of the spread of the disease in the State and also respond appropriately.
7. The State is now experiencing community transmission of the virus. This has made the State to commence mass testing of the citizens. Currently the State has been given sample collection target of 87,000. Meaning we have tested about 485 people per day.
8. As at today July 28, 2020, we have tested a total of cumulative samples numbering 14,816 out of which 10,922 results have been received. Pending results are 3,894. From all the tests conducted, 982 have tested positive.
9. The total number of people on admission is 221 (Riyom Trauma Hospital 18, JUTH 64, PSSH 70 and BhUTH 7). About 145 are on home management while the remaining are being moved to treatment centers. All those on admission are doing fine and responding to treatment.
10. Cumulatively, we have discharged 446 persons and sadly recorded 19 deaths. We are observing 454 suspected cases at the moment.
11. Let me say that our health workers who are on the frontline have also been affected by the virus. So far, the total health workers affected is 58 (10 doctors, 15 Nurses, 3 CHEWs, 2 J/CHEWs, 3 pharmacist technicians, 4 laboratory scientists, 1 lab technician, 1 record clerk, 1 watchman and 14 cleaners).
12. Following the directive by the Governor that all staff of Ministries and MDAs be screened, we have so far conducted tests for 4,422 staff of 54 MDAs with 174 of them testing positives. The tests are continuing. This makes Plateau State the first in the country to commence mass testing of Civil Servants.
13. The implication of these statistics is that there are increasing number of those infected with the disease in the State which is a result of the increase in testing capacity. These figures should not cause panic and anxiety but rather make all of us resolve to adopt safety precautions and also adhere to the guidelines.
14. You may have seen the record of yesterday’s NCDC summary which showed that Plateau has 148 cases. I wish to clarify that these are accumulated results which were delayed because of the shortage of reagents at the NVRI lab in Vom. They are not results of a single day please.
15. We are therefore widening our contact tracing which is becoming very challenging considering the increased cases relative to manpower and resources. However, the Governor is doing everything possible to close the gaps to enable us be ahead.
16. In view of the forth coming Eid-el Kabir celebrations on Friday, 31st July, 2020, the State Task Force on COVID-19, convened a meeting with the Muslim Ummah and the Security Chiefs in the State.
17. During the meeting, discussions were held on the guidelines and protocols on the celebrations. Guidelines from the PTF, the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) and the Security were deliberated upon.
18. At the end of the discussions, a harmonized guideline was put forward to direct the celebrations in the State. These guidelines were presented to His Excellency the Executive Governor and Chairman of the State Task Force on Covid-19 which he approved. They are as follows:
i. That prayers at Eid grounds be suspended in the State and restricted to Friday Mosques only, while at the same time observing all Covid-19 protocols.
ii. Elderly people are encouraged to stay at home as they are the most vulnerable to the virus.
iii. That all festivities, including visits to recreational Centers such as Zoo and Wildlife Park be halted.
iv. Residents should strictly use Face Masks during the occasion and especially children conveying food items to neighbours
v. Movement of commercial vehicles is to be restricted, except on emergency cases.
vi. A two (2) day suspension on Tricycles movement shall be observed before and after the prayers (i.e. 31st July – 1st August, 2020) , while the Federal Government Curfew from 10:00 pm to 4:00 am shall be enforced.
vii. That there should be greater enforcement of existing Covid-19 protocols during the Sallah celebrations.
viii. That the Covid-19 Task Force carries out more sensitization in major towns, using the Enlightenment vans and other resources of the Ministry of Information and Communication.
ix. That Local Government Council Chairmen be engaged to also replicate the measures enumerated in their jurisdictions for compliance at that level.
19. While reiterating the call by His Excellency the Governor for the citizens to submit themselves to covid-19 testing, we wish to re-emphasize that this disease is not a death sentence and there should be no reason whatsoever for stigmatization and discrimination.
20. The Governor has led the fight against this pandemic by example and has submitted himself and his family twice for Covid-19 test. He has also mandated all members of Exco to do same. We have also come out to tell you about some members of Exco who tested positive and the story of their recovery.
21. This shows that we can defeat this virus by adopting safety protocols and treating it just like any other ailment. The fact is that we are going to have to live with this pandemic for a long time and the earlier we get used to the guidelines of preventing it, the better for us.
22. Finally, I wish to also inform you that the Plateau State House of Assembly has passed the revised budget into law which will be assented to by the Governor any moment from now.
23. While wishing our Muslim brothers and sisters happy Eid-el Kabir, I urge all citizens to take all precaution and stay safe.
24. Thank you.
Rt. Hon. (Dr) Simon Bako Lalong, KSGG Executive Governor of the State & Chairman, Plateau State Task Force on Covid-19.