The Ministry of Health, Cross River State, said it is making use of town criers and churches as parts of the informal channels to enlighten people in the state about coronavirus.
The health commissioner, Betta Edu, stated this on Saturday while talking about the preparedness of the Cross River state government against the outbreak of the virus around the world.
Only one infection has been reported in Nigeria so far. Health officials around the country are stepping up preventive measures to forestall the possible spread of the virus.
The health commissioner, Mrs Edu, told PREMIUM TIMES that her ministry has met with the leadership of the Christian community in the state to have a sensitization message on the coronavirus read out in churches across the state.
We are also working with the mobilisation officers and information officers at the local government areas so they can get town criers out into the various communities to say these things in our local dialects and in Pidgin English.
“We are working with both the formal and the informal media in the state,” she said.
“We try to keep our message very straight and simple,” she said. “All we are saying is that Cross River state government is asking everybody not to panic, we are on top of the situation, and we are poised to protect Cross Riverians from the coronavirus.
“The message has been very strong in Cross River state, we have asked everyone if you see someone who is having cough, headache, they are sneezing, they are having shortness of breath, difficulty in breathing, and this person has had a history of travel to any of the countries that are implicated (in the coronavirus), please immediately notify the nearest health facility.”
Cross River has an isolation centre at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, Calabar, which the state government helped to set up.
The commissioner said the state has developed a system where samples could be sent in for laboratory tests.
“The state has been very pro-active in its response to the coronavirus. For the last two months, we have had an EOC (Emergency Operations Centre) set up and we meet every single day. This involved persons from various agencies from the federal government, the military, paramilitary, and all key stakeholders.
“We have done a lot of sensitization in rural areas, met with paramount rulers, told them about coronavirus and other diseases like Lassa fever. We have, in collaboration with federal agencies, set up screening points in all the points of entry into the state, land, sea, and air.
For the last two weeks, our airport has had health workers screening everyone that comes in from one of the 48 countries that have been implicated in the coronavirus outbreak.
“Your full biodata and other vital information are collected from you so that we can do proper contact tracing in case of any challenge or any suspected case. We also try to advise them to self-isolate at home and try and reduce their contact with various persons.
“For everyone that is involved in this process, they need to protect themselves and maintain personal hygiene, they must ensure they avoid people who are sick.
“They should wash their hands after taking care of people who are sick, we asked that they cover their mouth and their nose with tissue paper when they are sneezing and dispose them properly, use alcohol-based hand sanitizers as often as possible.
“They should also avoid sick or dead animals. They should also not use dirty hands on their nose and face,” the commissioner said.