COVID-19: Plateau surveillance team attacked in communities – Commissioner

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By Martha Agas

Jos  – The Plateau COVID-19 Surveillance teams are attacked and molested in some communities while discharging their duties, the state Commissioner for Health, Dr Nimkong Lar, has said.

Lar disclosed this on Monday at the Government House, Jos, during a stakeholders meeting comprising political and religious leaders and heads of government organisations to discuss the COVID-19 situation in the state.

Represented by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr Martins Azzuwut, the commissioner expressed concern at the practice, saying massive community engagement was required to address the problem.

“The surveillance teams are attacked or molested for going to move people to treatment centres.

“Our state is battling with inadequate reagents and consumables to conduct the COVID-19 testing, and more manpower is required for contact tracing for people of interest to the disease.

“We need to scale up community awareness, procure laboratory consumables, testing centres should be supported for more testing and response teams need motivation,” he said.

He urged local government chairmen to support response teams in their respective domains to enable them to discharge their duties diligently.

Lar also said that non-compliance to COVID-19 protocols, hesitancy of confirmed patients to commence treatment and backlog of pending results were major reasons for the high number of cases of the virus in the state.

He said the state had recorded 31 deaths out of the 3,231 confirmed cases recorded in the state as at Sept. 20, explaining that the low number of deaths was due to early diagnosis of the disease.

He said that Plateau being the third highest in the number of confirmed cases in the country was as a result of the large number of community testing in the state.

“We are the first state to test civil servants and a committee is being set up for massive testing when school resumes,” the commissioner said.

In his presentation, the Chairman of Plateau Research Team on COVID-19, Prof. Noel Wannang, said the team had made remarkable progress in the cure of the disease using indigenous plants in the state.

Wannang said the team had started phase two of its research, saying the team needed about three weeks to conclude that phase, adding that this was a great progress in the stage of research.

According to him, the first phase of research has been concluded which is the safe test of the drugs for consumption.

He added that the drugs had undergone pre-clinical trials using eggs, chicks, mice, rats, guinea pigs and rabbits.

The chairman said when the research was concluded, the drugs would be used to treat and cure COVID-19 placing Plateau as international for its scientific achievements.

In his remarks, Gov. Simon Lalong said that the biggest challenge in combating the pandemic in the state was lack of compliance to guidelines and protocols, as well as denials and resistance to contact tracing and testing by some individuals.

“Addressing the challenge requires the support and cooperation of critical stakeholders. They are crucial to curtail further spread of the disease.

“Your presence here today is therefore very crucial as we work together to take measures that will lead to greater sensitisation and enforcement within your spheres of influence.

“We need to curtail further spread of the disease by engaging our people to take personal responsibility for their health and the health of others.

“Many people are not using face masks nor washing their hands or maintaining social distancing. Indeed, others carry on as if there is no COVID-19, in spite of the fact that we have recorded deaths that are associated with the disease.

“We need to engage our people more and let them know that this pandemic may stay with us for a longer time,” Lalong said.

He assured the people of the state of his commitment toward overcoming the disease, saying he was in constant touch with the Federal Government, the private sector and international partners to ensure that the state received the attention it deserved.