Raymond Ozoji, Awka
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has alleged that more cases of the coronavirus exist in Anambra state apart from the already known index case.
The party in a statement released by the state publicity secretary in Anambra, Mr. Okelo Madukife, expressed reservations at the way and manner in which the ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) handled Covid-19 crisis in the state.
The APC frowned on the outright lack of a test centre in the state in spite of the huge sums of money spent on equipping isolation centres while the state resorted to Edo and Lagos states to ascertain outcome of Covid-19 samples.
The party equally accused the Anambra State Government of neglecting a private test centre at Nnewi, which it claimed could have been effective if government had prevailed on the Federal Ministry of Health as well as the National Centre for Disease Control to accredit the facility.
The statement reads, “We thank Governor Willie Obiano, for his broadcast to Anambra State on Saturday, the third since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Nigeria and the first since the confirmation of a COVID-19 Positive case in Anambra State on April 10, 2020.
“It is however regrettable that the broadcast did not answer to issues outstanding and arising from the second broadcast, just like the second did not do with the first, let alone developments in between.
“If someone who has turned out to be an index case beat the border closure in Anambra State, does it not vindicate us in our statement of March 29, 2020, that our supposedly closed borders were porous, with people bribing their ways into the state without any medical protocol?
“Should the governor not have addressed that issue with a definite course of action to plug the loopholes and make a difference, so that while Anambra citizens are staying home, others will not be corruptly pushing the virus in further through the borders, particularly since all states from Lagos to Anambra – Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Edo and Delta, are not COVID-19 free.
“If the staff in St. Joseph Hospital report that Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) did not respond promptly to their call for the patient to be investigated, and the hospital had to seek help through the state teaching hospital, does it not vindicate us that Anambra State which now had to go to Lagos for tests and lose many days, would require a testing centre in the state?
“In consolidation, Gov. Obiano, in his second broadcast informed Anambra State that nine samples were sent to Irrua, Edo State for testing, out of which only four results were ready at the time.The gap left in not updating the state of those five outstanding tests results, before this latest test was done in Lagos is an avoidable gap and perhaps an assumption, that Anambra people are absent-minded.
“Unless there are things being covered up, that update is now required. What with the reports that the COVID-19 case is on the run, a report which has not been debunked and the index case attending a large meeting in his hometown recently.
“The governor’s latest broadcast fails to acknowledge the scarcity of face masks, which are meant to be used for six hours and disposed and has not furthered its proposals to produce three million masks using Anambra State tailors, which we supported conditionally. Hence a deliberate has been left for that aspect to be an empty phrase.
“The broadcast talks of arrest of defaulters to a proposed lockdown extension of two weeks, but grossly fails to mention prosecution. We do not support that Ndi Anambra should be surrenderee to the hands of unscrupulous security agents who abused the first two-week partial lockdown by forcing shops not affected by the order closed and confiscating wares.
“Our own remedy is that the courts should open for skeletal services and be listed into the essential service list so that arrested persons can be prosecuted.
“To us, arresting and dumping persons in any form of detention is spreading the virus by other means, and subjecting people to extortion is not an option. Persons should be promptly tried, just like Lagos State which has more severe presence of the virus has been doing.
“Essential movements of persons requires that skeletally, transportation has to serve skeletally. Yet, the waivers to payment by transporters for April and May 2020 as announced by the government has remained mere rhetorics and government agents still collect monies from the transporters.
“For the avoidance of doubt, it is our view that while the idea of a lockdown might in theory be effective, the way the state government has approached it, with very little checks on security agents, very little enlightenment, zero updates from ministries of health and information and virtually no relief, while allowing bribe givers and takers sabotage the sacrifice leads up to insist that a review of strategy is inevitable as staying home alone cannot be the ultimate solution.
“It would be more effective to emphasize mass tests, contact tracing and social distancing, so that leaving Anambra State economy can open at the earliest.
“We understand also that a privately-sponsored testing centre has been built at Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi. The government should get the NCDC and the Federal Ministry of Health to accredit this centre and approach the current challenge scientifically.
“We hold that there is too much work on ground to discriminate on where the initiative has come from. Running tests in Nnewi is better than doing so from Lagos, when the pressure gets severe, as we believe from the narratives so far that there are more COVID-19 cases in Anambra State than the scanty, millepede-speed tests have unearthed so far.”