COVID-19: Passengers Stranded As Anambra, Delta Shut Niger Bridge

Anambra Government has announced the closure of the Onitsha end of the River Niger bridge following the shut down of Delta State borders.

A statement from the Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Solo Chukwulobelu, yesterday, directed security agencies to enforce the closure order.

“Delta state has announced the closure of all its land borders with effect from Sunday,  March 29. Motorists are advised not to travel through the Niger Bridge Head, Onitsha to avoid putting pressure on the bridge. Motorists will not be able to drive into Delta state as a result of the border closure order in place.

“The government of Anambra state is also announcing the closure of Onitsha Head bridge with immediate effect to discourage vehicles queuing up on the bridge. Motorists should also note that the government of Enugu state has announced the closure of its land borders with effect from Tuesday, March 31.

“Only vehicles transporting food items and medicines will be allowed passage. The government of Anambra state hereby reiterates its earlier directive for people to stay at home and observe strictly the coronavirus advisory and directives earlier issued,” Prof. Chukwulobelu said.

Meanwhile, hundreds of travellers in and out of Delta State were stranded at the Asaba end of the River Niger Bridge head following the enforcement of the closure of land borders by the government.

Security agents were at the border points to ensure no one entered the state, a situation that resulted in long queues of trucks, buses and cars on the Onitsha-Benin highway.

Some of the travellers, who claimed ignorance of the directive that was issued last Thursday, expressed sadness that they could not continue their journeys onward or backward.

One of them, who identified himself as James Orji, a commercial transporter, said he was going to Lagos from Owerri, Imo State.

Fuming with anger, a woman, who simply gave her name as Theresa, said she was molested by a soldier while trying to cross from Asaba to Onitsha.

She explained that she crossed to Asaba from Onitsha at 6am on Sunday to buy garri using the footpath on the bridge.

The Anambra state government has trained heads of departments from 21 local government areas  as well as other health personnel on how to handle the coronavirus cases if it breaks out  in their localities.

The training is to get the officers prepared on how to identify cases of the COVID-19 pandemic in the state and how to remain safe while doing the job.

Managing Director of Anambra State Oxygen Production Plant, and Special Adviser to the Governor on Indigenous Medicine, Dr. Onyeka Ibezim, said the training became necessary as the country continues to witness an increase in the number of infected persons.

Ibezim who was chief facilitator of the training held in Awka, said with the threat of coronavirus pandemic, it became necessary to train frontline health officers who are in regular touch with communities.

Commissioner for Health, Dr. Vincent Okpala, explained that government had in the course of the Lassa fever outbreak developed a procedure which was adjudged very comprehensive by experts and was channelled towards the public and healthcare providers. He added that “same algorithm has come handy with the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Okpala said medical equipment that would be used at the three designated coronavirus isolation centres in the state has arrived.

He lauded Governor Willie Obiano for supporting the work of the state’s COVID-19 Taskforce by making the medical supplies available.

He listed Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Teaching Hospital, Amaku-Awka, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi and Onitsha General Hospital as the state’s isolation centres.

The items include hospital beds and drawers, oxygen concentrator, electric suction, patient monitor, personal protective equipment (PPE) for caregivers including protective masks and hand gloves.

No confirmed case in Imo – Uzodinma

Imo Governor, Hope Uzodinma, has debunked rumours of the death  of a coronavirus infected person in the state, saying “there is no confirmed case of coronavirus disease in the state.”

Uzodinma, in a statement issued by his Commissioner for Information and strategy, Declan Emelumba, said a citizen who returned from South Africa sick and lodged in a hotel was suspected to have been infected by the virus and had been isolated and tested to ascertain his status while the hotel and the village he visited had been quarantined for 14 days.

“The government wants to make  it absolutely clear that there is no confirmed case of the coronavirus disease in the state.  This clarification is necessary because of the rumour making the rounds that someone has died of the disease in the state.

“An  Imo son from Ahiazu Mbaise returned recently from South Africa. He visited a hotel in Umuguma in Owerri and his village in Ahiazu Mbaise. He later flew back to Abuja where he was reported sick and admitted in a hospital.

“He is alive and is being tested for the virus. Because he failed to self isolate as someone coming from abroad, and as a precautionary measure, government ordered that the  hotel he visited be sealed and all staff and guests quarantined for 14 days to observe them for symptoms. The state ministry of health has also moved to quarantine the village he visited and the villagers will be observed for 14 days also for symptoms.

“If any one from either the hotel or the village is seen to have symptoms, he or she will immediately be taken away for further analysis and tests to confirm whether the person has Coronavirus or not. Rest assured that government is on top of the situation and will do everything to keep Imo people safe,” he said.

Abia closes borders, Bishop calls for establishment of test centres 

Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, yesterday, ordered the closure of the state’s land borders.

This is even as the Bishop of Methodist Church of Nigeria, Revd. Sunday Onuoha has called on the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to provide testing laboratories in all the states of the country.

A statement by Chief John Okiyi-Kalu, Abia Commissioner for Information, said the governor’s order was sequel to the recommendation of the state’s inter-ministerial committee on COVID-19.  Okiyi-Kalu said with this directive, security agencies, traditional rulers and community youths in the state were empowered to take all necessary measures, including the blocking of the borders till further notice to ensure total compliance.

The commissioner said traditional rulers and security agencies should ensure that persons identified to have returned from other states in Nigeria and foreign countries were confined to their homes for at least 14 days.

Bishop Onuoha, on his part, urged the NCDC to get rid of all bureaucratic bottlenecks and set up testing centres accessible to Nigerians wherever they reside.

Onuoha in a statement said since coronavirus pandemic concerns all, it would not be fair for NCDC to deprive the South-East of a testing laboratory for suspected cases.

He said the government had the resources to set up testing laboratory in all the zones, even as he called for testing centres to be established in all states.

Bishop Onuoha who observed that there were no clear-cut border lines in some states of the South-East, however said should the states form joint efforts, they would be able to checkmate the influx of people from other states into the zone.

Hunger killing Nigerians than COVID-19, Igbo group alleges

The Igbo National Stakeholders’ Assembly (INSA) has expressed the fear that hunger that comes with the lockdown of some states was killing Nigerians than the dreaded coronavirus pandemic.

The group appealed to the Federal Government to quickly release palliatives, especially financial packages and food items to enable Nigerians to survive the hardship imposed by the lockdown of the nation.

President General of INSA, Chief John Uche, who stated this, recommended the issuance of the sum of N150,000 per adult and also called on the government to emulate the U.S  that had tasked General Motors to manufacture ventilators for the country, by mandating Innoson Vehicles Manufacturing Company to do same for Nigeria.

“Before now, millions of Nigerians die of hunger caused by bad economy. Let it be clear that what hunger would kill if this lockdown continues will be more than what coronavirus will kill. We are sure that so far the number of people dying daily because of lack of food have increased since the lockdown.

We therefore call on President Muhammadu Buhari to make provision for Nigerians to survive this hard time. Food items and money should be made available to Nigerians.

“While we suggest that the President should give every Nigerian adult a minimum of N150,000 a month for the next three months to cushion the effects of the lockdown, we want to warn corrupt government officials in this administration to steer clear of the funds and materials donated by individuals, corporate organisations, donor nations and agencies.

These funds should not be shared among cronies as was done to the trader money.  These funds and that which would be provided by the federal government should be used to feed Nigerians whom hunger is killing faster than coronavirus,” he stated.

A non-political group, Ndigbo Unity Forum (NUF) has appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to provide financial assistance to Nigerians to cushion the effect of the coronavirus lockdown across Nigeria.

The group called on the president to consider the plight of  low income Nigerians, and that those with Bank Verification Number (BVN) and having less than N100, 000 in their account should be paid N30,000 weekly.

Leader of NUF, Mr. Augustine Chukwudum, in a statement said that appeal became necessary following the hardship citizens were going through in the country with the shutdown of many businesses.

Daily Sun

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