Nigeria’s tally of Coronavirus (Covid-19) infections on Wednesday morning shot up to 151 from 139 announced on Tuesday by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
According to the new data released by NCDC, nine new cases have been recorded in Osun State, which until then had only five cases. The three other new cases were found in Ekiti and Edo states.
Confirming the development to our reporter, the state’s Commissioner for Health, Rafiu Isamotu, and Ismail Omipidan, the chief press secretary to Governor Gboyega Oyetola, said the state’s figure of confirmed cases suddenly rose to 14 between Monday and Wednesday.
According to Mr Omipidan, apart from the index case, who had earlier surrendered himself for test and another contact, who screened positive, the additional 12 cases are among 127 indigenes of the state who returned from Cote d’Ivoire last week.
As a result of the development, Osun has now overtaken neighbouring Oyo to rank third on the ladder of states with high numbers of recorded cases in Nigeria.
Story of the returnees
On Friday, Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, reached out to Mr Oyetola, informing him of six buses conveying indigenes of the state, who were stranded at the state’s boundary with Benin Republic. The development, PREMIUM TIMES learnt, was a result of the closure of all international entry points to the state by the state government.
According to a statement issued on Saturday by Osun State’s commissioner for information, Funke Egbemode, Mr Oyetola was appreciative of the support granted the returnees, “who were not only allowed access to pass through the state but were also escorted by security operatives from the state.”
Titled, “Covid-19: Oyetola thanks Governor Abiodun for Assisting Osun Returnees,” the statement reads in part; “Governor Oyetola said that beyond the information, the Ogun State Government also graciously provided security escort that accompanied the returnees to Osun.
“Governor Oyetola thanked the Ogun State governor and the entirety of the state, for approaching the situation with a brotherly understanding.”
The returnees, mostly from Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire’s densely populated economic capital, had returned home to avoid the planned lockdown of the city by the Ivorian government.
Following the record of the first death out of 165 cases in the country as of Saturday, the government locked down the city on Monday, barring movement except of people on essential duties.
Mr Omipidan told our reporter on the telephone that on their arrival in the state, the returnees were led to their hometown, Ejigbo, but restricted from mingling with the people as they were camped separately.
“The 127 of them were camped within the dormitory of a high school in the town and they were barred from moving out of the camp. The government has since been responsible for their welfare while their samples were taken for screening for the Coronavirus disease.
“However, on Monday evening, results of 24 out of the 127 samples taken indicated that three were already positive. So as at Tuesday, we were still awaiting the results for the remaining 103.”
How nine tested positive
Findings by PREMIUM TIMES revealed that late on Tuesday when the results of additional 47 of the 103 returnees were released by the accredited testing centre at the Redeemed University, Ede, nine more tested positive, increasing the number of confirmed cases in the state to 14.
PREMIUM TIMES learnt the result was immediately forwarded to the NCDC for proper recording and announcement.
A memberof the state’s Covid-19 task force, who does not want to be named, told our reporter that it was shocking that additional nine had tested positive on Tuesday evening.
“It is a sad development that additional nine tested positive again. It has put the state in dire straits. We are still awaiting the result for 56 others, so there is no doubt the tally may increase,” the official said.
Governor boosts combat efforts
Apparently due to the rising number of confirmed cases in the state, the state government has set aside partisan considerations and intensified efforts to boost the fight against the rampaging disease.
Apart from the task force involving medical experts and other stakeholders, the Governor Oyetola on Tuesday announced a 21-member welfare committee for the indigent.
The list, which comprises politicians, businessmen and women, and traditional rulers, include opponents of the governor in 2018.
Chaired by Tunde Badmus of Tuns Farms Limited, the list also contains the name of Mr Oyetola’s political arch-rival and elder brother of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Ademola Adeleke, Deji Adeleke; and the former deputy speaker of the House of Representatives who lost to Mr Oyetola at the ruling All Progressive Congress party primaries, Lasun Yusuff, among others.
Others on the list include the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Enoch Adeboye; Matthew Asimolowo of Kingsway International Christian Centre; the Ooni of Ife, Enitan Ogunwusi; Folorunsho Alakija of Famfal Oil Limited, and three of the governor’s predecessors in office- Bisi Akande, Olagunsoye Oyinlola and Rauf Aregbesola.
According to a statement signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Wole Oyebamiji, the decision was necessary to take care of the less-privileged and cushion the effects of the restrictive actions already taken to combat the pandemic.
“As the efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 continues with intense devotion, it has become inevitable to put in place Relief and Humanitarian Banks across the state. The state appreciates its supportive friends, donors and partners, who have contributed to the project, including those who have pleaded to remain anonymous,” Mr Oyebamiji wrote.
He added, “Osun has limited means but unlimited needs to fulfil during this period.”