By Desmond Ejibas
Port Harcourt – The management of the University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT), Rivers, has directed compulsory use of face masks on its campuses to curtail spread of COVID-19 in the state.
Prof. Regina Ogali, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration), made this known in a statement by the institution’s Deputy Registrar (Information), Dr Williams Wodi, in Port Harcourt on Saturday.
Ogali was quoted as having issued the directive during a meeting between principal officers and members of COVID-19 Steering Committee in the university.
Ogali, who currently oversees the affairs of UNIPORT in the absence of a substantive Vice Chancellor, said the decision was in-line with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) COVID-19 protocol.
“Henceforth, all staff, students and visitors to UNIPORT must fully observe the COVID-19 protocol as approved by NCDC and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
“We called this meeting with the COVID-19 Steering Committee, especially now that the number of confirmed cases in Rivers State is becoming scary by the day.
“To this end, we need to take proactive steps to safeguard the health status of staff, residents and visitors to the university.
“Also, we need to plan ahead of possible resumption of academic activities, if and when we are so directed by the Federal Government,” Ogali told the committee members.
She said that the university had started taking delivery of equipment and kits for its COVID-19 test centre and expressed optimism that the centre would become fully operational in July.
The deputy vice chancellor added that management would soon instal infrared thermometers, hand sanitisers and running water at strategic locations, including offices and faculty buildings.
She directed the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences in the university to start production of hand sanitisers in commercial quantity for distribution to the public.
“Also, we should begin to think seriously about encouraging our Information and Communication Technology Centre and ODel, a virtual centre, to work out modalities to enable UNIPORT to begin online learning,” she noted.
The Chairman of the committee, Prof. Iyeopu Siminialayi, attributed the rising number of confirmed coronavirus cases to increase of testing in the state.
Siminialayi, Provost of the College of Health Sciences at the University, said that work was ongoing to convert the International Students Centre to a temporary quarantine and isolation centre.
On his part, Dr Datonye Alasia, another member of the committee and an infectious disease expert, said that about 40 per cent to 50 per cent of people tested for COVID-19 turned out positive.