By Peter Duru – Makurdi
Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state says he has no regrets revealing the identity of the state’s COVID-19 index case, Mrs. Susan Okpe, despite her desperate attempts to politicized the issue and whipped up ethnic sentiments.
He insisted that the decision was made in the best interest of the people of the state stressing that with the identity of the index case known, tracking and isolation of all who had contacts with her became easy.
The Governor in a press statement yesterday by his Chief Press Secretary, CPS, Terver Akase expressed shock that Mrs. Okpe had through several social media videos allege that she was detained in Makurdi and stigmatized on account of her COVID-19 status.
According to the CPS, The false allegations are targeted at vilifying the Governor in a desperate attempt to put him in bad light but Benue people have continued to appreciate him for his proactive approach to contain the pandemic.
“It is the constitutional duty of the Governor to ensure the safety and wellbeing of his people. Section 26 (2) (e) of the National Health Act, 2014 gives the government the powers to disclose information relating to a person if ‘non-disclosure of the information represents a serious threat to public health.’
“Mrs. Okpe admitted in her numerous videos that on her arrival in Benue State, she visited a private hospital in Makurdi for treatment. She also admitted that the doctor in the private hospital later informed her that she had tested positive for COVID-19 and was to be treated.
“After the Deputy Governor, Benson Abounu led a team of medical experts to counsel Mrs. Okpe and explained to her why she had to be moved to the Benue State University Teaching Hospital, BSUTH, it was only proper that the people were informed that there was an index case in the state. This is precisely what the Governor did.
“It is rather sad that Okpe who is a Nigerian citizen has insulted all Nigerians and says repeatedly that she does not trust anyone in this country.
“But even in the United Kingdom where she left for Nigeria, the Prime Minister tested positive for COVID-19 and went public to say that he had contracted the disease.
“He was treated and later discharged. But here, Mrs. Okpe has refused treatment and taken to daily production of videos to castigate all medical personnel who attempt to attend to her, government officials and anyone who holds a contrary opinion regarding her case.
“We wish to remind Mrs. Okpe that she is no longer in the care of Benue State Government. NCDC is in charge of her case in Abuja and will ascertain her status. If she is certified free of COVID-19, the disease control agency will let her go. She needs to redirect her messages to the agency and leave Governor Ortom alone,” part of the statement read.