Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) ,Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu has commended the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike for his firm and personal leadership  to check the spread of coronavirus in Rivers State. 
Speaking during a meeting  between  Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike and officials of  Nigeria Center for Diseases Control (NCDC) at  the Government House,  Port Harcourt on Sunday, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu said that Rivers State is important in the fight to stop the spread of the virus. 

He said: "This is a working visit. I want to thank you for your firm,  strong,  committed and personally led response to COVID-19 in Rivers State. 

"Rivers is one of the most important gate-ways into the country. One of the most important economies in the country . So, Rivers is important , not only to you but to the entire country. 

"We thank you very much for your leadership and we need your leadership to continue in order for us to continue doing our work nationally."

The NCDC Director General said that his team is in Rivers State to engage with the State Public Health Team to consolidate on the successes on the fight against coronavirus. 

"This is actually a joint team. I have come with the  officer in charge of World Health Organisation . We have come together  to offer our support. 

"Your Excellency, you have an excellent public health team to which I have an excellent working relationship with. We have a close technical working relationship. 

"The purpose of this visit is to engage with the team and understand  their challenges and continue  driving that close coordination," he said. 

The Director General of NCDC noted that because of the unique nature of the virus, all stakeholders must work in Unity.

He said: "The unique nature of this virus is that it is a global pandemic.  None of us can do this on our own. No country can do this on its own.

"We share information across the states to make sure that everyone is informed as they can possibly be. We share Information on new developments, strategies, what works and what doesn't work. 

"Whether it is is in detection, prevention and treatment, our role as NCDC  is to make sure that our technical colleagues , are able to respond at all levels and are supported in any way with the expertise they need."

He said that because the prolonged lockdown cannot continue indefinitely, stakeholders must begin to work towards gradually reopening the economy without endangering the population. 

The NCDC leader also urged the private sector to focus more on helping the states to build their capacity to respond to the virus. 

Responding on behalf of the Rivers State Government, Health Commissioner, Prof Princewill Chike said that Governor Wike has strengthened the Public Health System of the state to fight coronavirus. 

He said before the coronavirus pandemic, the Rivers State Government was already battling Lassa Fever, Monkey Pox and HIV/AIDS. 

He said as a result of the proactive leadership of Governor Wike, the State has no current confirmed case of coronavirus.  He said the two cases in the state have been treated and discharged. 

"Since January, Rivers State has had two cases of coronavirus.  A 19 year model and a 62 year old retiree. They have been treated and discharged.  All the 214 persons that had contact with them  were placed under surveillance.

"Except for two cases, all other contacts have exited Isolation," he said.

The Health Commissioner said that the proactive approach of Governor Wike in tackling coronavirus centres, early detection, prevention and treatment. 

He said: "We give kudos to our Governor for his proactive approach at tackling coronavirus . It has been successful.  The Rivers State Executive Council set up a sensitization committee to sensitise and inform the people on ways to prevent the spread of coronavirus."

The Rivers State Government said that it has PCR Machines, but they are devoted to the treatment of other major ailments before the outbreak of coronavirus. 

The Health Commissioner said that another set of PCR machines to be devoted to the testing and treatment of COVID-19 is on its way to  the state.

He also announced that all public hospitals in different local government areas of the state have COVID-19 centres, developed by the Wike Administration. 

He said: "They have been developed to hold suspect cases before the intervention of the State Rapid Response Team on COVID-19. "

The Rivers State Government called on the Federal Government to take immediate steps to stop oil companies from  violating  the State Executive Order on restriction of movement. 

He said: "The way some oil companies breach the Executive Order issued by the Rivers State Governor to restrict movement in and out of the State can jeopardise the fight against coronavirus.  The Rivers State Government needs the support of the State Federal Government in this regard. "

The Rivers State Government also requested the establishment of a functional Federal Laboratory to handle coronavirus testing.  The Government said even though it is in the process of setting its major laboratory, the strategic place of Rivers State as the nation's oil and gas hub, requires a federal testing centre.

Simeon Nwakaudu,

Special Assistant to the Rivers State Governor, Electronic Media. 

19th April, 2020.