The governor of Borno State, Babagana Zulum, on Monday declared a complete lockdown of the state for 14 days as part of measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
Borno on Sunday night recorded its first index case who died while receiving treatment for the severe respiratory disease at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH).
The index case, a 56-year-old retired male nurse, was working with the Medicine Sans Frontier (MSF) in Pulka village of Gwoza local government when he became ill. He died two days after he was brought to the UMTH.
The United Nations office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, has confirmed that the deceased index had no recent travel history – a situation that cast confusion over how he got infected with the virus.
The death has since stirred controversy in the state as concerned residents are worried that the index case may have infected many persons that had contact with him.
The state deputy governor, Umar Kadafur, who chairs the committee on COVID-19 said earlier that 97 contacts have been traced.
Speaking in a state wide-broadcast, Governor Zulum, while declaring a 24 hours curfew in the state for a period of 14 days, said he would also be activating a probe into the circumstances that led to the death of the index case at UMTH.
Mr Zulum whose address was aired at 7 p.m., described the death of the health worker as unfortunate.
He said “the late health worker dedicated himself to providing humanitarian the healthcare services to fellow citizens that were critically affected by the Boko haram insurgency.”
“I am setting up a panel to investigate the circumstances surrounding the outbreak and handling of the index case in Borno State.
“It is my considered view that the government owes this duty to both those exposed to the risk of infection and the deceased, whose values were against the spread of infection.”
Stressing how real and dangerous the COVID-19 pandemic had become, Governor Zulum said his administration would take all necessary steps to ensure it does not add to the already existing decade-long Boko Haram burden the state is dealing with.
He, however, said notwithstanding the dangers posed by COVID-19, it had three solutions.
“And these solutions have the same word: Prevention; Prevention, and again, Prevention,” he said.
Mr Zulum said the state’s team has traced 97 persons that are believed to have made contacts with the index case.
He said “35 of them were traced in Pulka town of Gwoza local government area and 64 in Maiduguri.
“A surveillance and case management team has also been deployed to Pulka to quarantine all persons who had contact with the index case.
“I will like to clarify that tracing 97 interest persons does not amount to having 97 cases of the virus. We, however, await results from samples collected from these contacts, hoping we get good results.”
Governor Zulum said he government is taking “far-reaching measures” to ensure the virus does not cause any health concern in any part of Borno State.
“In the exercise of the powers conferred on me, I have signed an executive order, declaring COVID-19 a dangerous disease,” he said.
“For this, I am hereby directing a lockdown that will require cessation of all movements in Borno State for an initial period of 14 days effective from 10:30 pm on Wednesday, 22nd of April, 2020.
“All citizens in Borno State are to stay in their homes. This means all public gatherings are restricted while offices and businesses in Borno State are to be fully closed during this period. Security and intelligence agencies have been briefed for enforcement.”
He said the government will use this period of restriction to accelerate the tracing and isolation of persons who have been in contact with the index case.
He clarified that the restriction will not apply to providers of essential services, which the high powered team for prevention and control of COVID-19 in Borno State will make public.