World Press Day: Obaseki tasks journalists on ethics, facts-based reportage amid COVID-19
Gov Godwin Obaseki

…Says it built isolation centres, procured 6 dialysis machines, 10,000 PPE, others

…Denies releasing photograph of fleeing patient

By Ozioruva Aliu

Deputy Governor of Edo State, Mr. Philip Shaibu, has given a breakdown of how the state spent over N1billion in its response to coronavirus (COVID-19) disease now ravaging the world.

Shaibu, who also serves as chairman of the state’s COVID-19 response technical committee, said the money was spent on medical equipment, isolation centres, PPEs, and palliatives.

Governor Godwin Obaseki had, on April 19, said the state had already spent over N1billion on its COVID-19 response but this drew a lot of backlash on and off social media.

However, speaking with Osasu Igbinedion on The Osasu Show, on television, Shaibu said: “The over N1 billion that is becoming a controversy is crazy because, for instance, we have two new isolation centres that have been built, we have a 30-bed new isolation centre in Stella Obasanjo Hospital.

“We have a 12-bed isolation centre in Auchi, 12 female and 12 male, making a total of 24. The entire Stella Obasanjo Hospital now, that used to be 168-bed facility is being converted, as we speak, to a 400-bed facility, which will be also a holding centre and an isolation centre.

“Beyond that, equipment, ventilators, presently have become the hottest cake in terms of medical equipment in the entire country beyond PPEs. We procured recently, within this period, a total of 32 ventilators.”

“When you quantify the amount of the cost of a ventilator, an average of N8 million, you would know the cost of that.”

Shaibu also explained the need to buy dialysis machines for renal problems, springing from COVID-19, adding the money was spent on it.

He said: “We also procured dialysis machines because when we were investigating this particular ailment, we discovered that you can get to a state where you will need dialysis because of kidney failure and other renal problems.

“So, we also procured six dialysis machines for the new facility, we also procured two new mobile x-ray machines for this new facility. When you check from the angle of this equipment alone, you have over N600 million.

“We are not talking about the facility itself, the structure itself. Don’t forget we have a brand new isolation centre in Stella Obasanjo, which was an expansion of the old one.

“We had one existing one that had a 24-bed ICU facility that we were supposed to use for the Edo 2020 national sports festival, but because of the pandemic, we decided to build a new one, which is a 30-bed one. That infrastructure was built in 12 days.

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“We procured over 10,000 PPEs. We have procured a lot of face masks, N91, N3, and all the necessary medical protective kits.

“Beyond that, we have also invested in palliatives, with the first phase of palliatives for our people took place last two weeks, and the second phase is about to kick start from this week.

“When you quantify those costs, you’d agree with me that a billion is already too small for what I said.”

Meanwhile, the state government has denied ever releasing any photograph of a fleeing COVID-19 patient, a nursing mother, who is wanted for treatment in the state.

Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Communication Strategy, Mr. Crusoe Osagie, who stated this in reaction to a video on social media by someone claiming to have been falsely identified as the nursing mother but absconded after testing positive for COVID-19, noted that the lady whose picture was circulated on social media, was a victim of fake news.

He said the action by the mischief makers amounted to undermining government’s efforts at tracking down the nursing mother.

Osagie said: “Our attention has been drawn to a video on social media by a lady who claimed her photos have been circulated on social media wrongly as the nursing mother wanted for COVID-19 treatment by the state government.

“It must be stated that when government made the announcement, it only gave the name of the woman in question and her address and never released any photograph of her.

“We categorically stated that the nursing mother lives at No. 2 Atoe Idubor Str, off 2nd Ugbor, Benin City. With such detail, it would be impossible to mix up the person we are searching for.

“However, we understand that the action of the mischief makers would have caused the lady in the video on social media undue psychological torment. We sympathize with her as, just like us, she is now a victim of fake news.”

“Therefore, we use this opportunity to reiterate the warning to purveyors of fake news and misinformation to desist from such act, as their actions amount to undermining government’s effort to check the spread of coronavirus. This is punishable under the Quarantine Act Regulations, which is in force in the state.”

He  urged the general public to continue to provide useful information that would aid in tracking down the COVID-19 patient and her baby to safeguard Edo people.

Vanguard

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