As at September 18, 2020, Plateau State has become the epicentre of the dreaded coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Nigeria with a total of 3,175 confirmed cases while Jos North and Jos South local government areas of the state recorded the highest index case. Even at that, Governor Simon Lalong has hinted that all schools in the state will resume by the end of October.
The State Commissioner of Health, Dr Nimkon Lar who disclosed this at the COVID-19 engagement with local government chairmen and traditional rulers at the Little Ray field, Goverment House, in Jos said the 3,175 cases were from the seventeen local government areas of the state with Jos North and South having 81 per cent of the total cases.
He further narrated that the state presently has 25 cases on admission, 522 are on home-based care and 377 are yet to be moved to the treatment centre, adding that the epicentres of the COVID-19 pandemic in the state Jos North and Jos South recorded 1323 and 1,173 respectively while the number of deaths were 29 in the two council areas.
The Commissioner of Health attributed the increase to non-adherence to COVID-19 preventive measures, low risk of perception, inadequate manpower to carry out contact tracing and follow up of confirmed cases in the wake of the increasing number of cases in the state and massive community testing being carried out.
In his opening address, Governor Simon Bako Lalong said the State Government has so far committed about N366.5 million naira to the fight against COVID-19 adding that the launch of the Plateau State COVID-19 endowment fund saw good spirited individuals and corporate organisations making donations.
“We are grateful to kind-hearted people that contributed about N123. 3 million as well as other food and medical items valued at about N155 million naira. The World Health Organisation also recently donated N100 million to the State Government which has greatly helped us to treat those infected by the virus. Such donations also enhanced our capacity to distribute palliatives to the weak and vulnerable to cushion the impact of the pandemic. The distributions have been handled in the most transparent manner under the supervision of the Deputy Governor, Prof. Sonni Tyoden,” he said.
Governor Lalong said the biggest challenge remains the lack of compliance to guidelines and protocols, denials and resistance to contact tracing and testing by some individuals adding that the state needs the support and cooperation of community and traditional rulers to overcome these challenges.
On preparations to reopening of schools, the governor stated that the goverment has set up a committee headed by the Secretary to the Government of the State as well as sub-committees on Readiness and Compliance headed by the Commissioner for Secondary Education and Chairman, SUBEB respectively.
He added that the state government has also trained teachers and principals, disinfected schools, and established task teams towards ensuring that all laid down protocols are observed.
“Once we finish with exit classes, we will gradually cascade to other classes within secondary and primary levels. The success we record at these levels shall determine the reopening of tertiary institutions, all in a bid to guarantee the safety of our children and avoid resurgence. We hope that if all goes well, our schools should all re-open by the end of October” he said.
Lalong, however, re-assured the entire people of Plateau State that his administration will not leave any stone unturned in overcoming the pandemic adding that his goverment is in constant touch with the Federal Government, the private sector and international partners to ensure that Plateau is captured in all COVID-19 intervention plans.