49 health workers infected in Enugu
No fewer than 13 lawmakers of the Imo State House of Assembly have tested positive for COVID-19. This is the result from samples taken from 26 lawmakers by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) last week. This is also as about 49 health workers have contracted the virus in Enugu State.
The spokesperson for the Imo State COVID-19 Task Force, Chinedu Iwuala, confirmed the number of infected lawmakers to journalists in Owerri yesterday. He noted that the affected lawmakers had been instructed to go into self-isolation with their families.
The media aide to the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Mr. Emeka Ahaneku, said he would take the assertion with reservation as neither the NCDC team nor the state COVID- 19 Task Force had conveyed the outcome of the test to the parliament.
He said: “We will wait until the NCDC or the state COVID-19 Task Force issues a statement on the matter. For now, all I know is that the Speaker is COVID-19 free and everyone in the office of the Speaker has received a call or text message from NCDC which confirmed them negative for the virus. “What the NCDC does is that they call or text the sample owners directly and tell them the outcome of the test. Going by that, only the NCDC or the state Task Force can tell us which lawmaker is positive and which is negative.”
The Chairman, House Committee on Information and Judiciary, Hon. Nelson Ezerioha, told journalists that he did not have a list of his colleagues who tested positive for the pandemic as he had no access to such information. The lawmaker, however, noted that he tested negative as was conveyed to him by officials of NCDC through a phone call. He said: “You know it is against the law to disclose the identities of the carriers of the virus. The truth is that 26 out of the 27 of us, including the Speaker, were tested and we have been receiving calls individually from the NCDC about our status.
“There are some of us who the NCDC told to go into self-isolation. I don’t know the figure and I am not going to speak on that. I was told by NCDC officials that I am negative.” The Assembly complex was last week put on lockdown after one lawmaker reportedly tested positive for COVID-19. Meanwhile, the Enugu State Ministry of Health announced that the 49 health workers had contracted coronavirus. The ministry also confirmed 68 new cases in the state in four days, bringing the total to 144. The ministry said the figures were confirmed by the NCDC.
In a statement yesterday, the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Obi Emmanuel Ikechukwu, gave the breakdown as 144 cases: 110 active, 29 discharged and five deaths. He said: “Following some misconceptions over the spread of the pandemic in the state, it has become necessary to correct and inform the public that Enugu has had its share of COVID-19 infections, just as it is happening all over the world.
“No individual category has been spared by the pandemic. Consequently, men, women, children, old and young, people of every profession and socio-economic class have been affected.” Also, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has approved the immediate constitution of an Ad Hoc Expert Medical Advisory Committee on urgent and effective measures for de-escalation of the pandemic in the state, as recommended by the state chapter of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA). The Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Prof. Simon Uchenna Ortuanya, said in a statement that the committee “will engage with leaders of various religious groups, market associations, professional associations, labour unions, National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) Enugu State chapter, Association of Tricycle Riders Transport Union, Enugu State, civil society groups, organised private sector and all other relevant stakeholders and recommend urgent and effective measures for de-escalation of transmission of coronavirus infection in Enugu State, with due regard to all extant Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) protocols for containment of the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) infection”. The ad hoc committee, which has a Consultant Cardiologist and Professor of Medicine, University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu, Prof. Emmanuel Ejim, as chairman, “will also take any other reasonable steps that may be incidental to the attainment of the objective above”. Other members of the committee, which has two weeks to submit its report, are: Rev. Dr. Ifeanyi Onah; Chief Consultant Plastic, Surgeon at Infectious Disease Unit, National Orthopedic Hospital, Enugu; Dr. Nneka Unaogu, Consultant Psychiatrist/ Head, Research and Training, Federal Neuropsychiatric, Hospital, Enugu and Dr. Nnamdi Nwosu, Consultant Respiratory Physician, UNTH, Enugu, among others