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Benue records first COVID-19 case, takes proactive steps to curtail spread

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The Benue Government on Saturday announced the state’s first case of COVID-19 in Makurdi, the state capital.

Gov Samuel Ortom made the announcement at a press briefing in Makurdi shortly after an emergency meeting of the State Emergency Response Team (SERT), on COVID-19.

Ortom said that the victim, one Ms Susan Ukpe, who tested positive to the coronavirus pandemic, was already quarantined at the isolation centre in Benue Teaching Hospital, Makurdi.

Ortom explained that the SERT for COVID-19 discovered her where she was receiving treatment in a hospital in Makurdi and took her sample for test where the result came positive.

He said that Ukpe was among the eight persons that came back from countries with high prevalent rates of the viral disease.

He said that her sample was taken along another suspect, but only hers came out positive.

“The decision to announce her name is to notify people who have come in contact with her to come out for test or to go for self isolation for the next 14 days.

“All the staff of the hospital where she was receiving treatment, as well as friends and family members, will be on isolation to prevent possible spread,” he said.

Ortom disclosed that the response team would also carry out contact tracing to ensure that the virus did not spread.

He announced that all major markets in the state would be closed as from Monday, March 30, till further notice, and urged the public to restock their kitchens.

He said that shops would, in the interim, be allowed to operate.

Ortom said he would make a state broadcast on Monday to announce stiffer measures already approved by the government.

According to Ortom, the state may close its borders as from next week.

The governor also announced the suspension of all religious gatherings, including Church services and Muslim prayers.

“We are taking all these measures in the interest of all Benue citizens. We have no option but to take these measures.

“We are encouraging people to obey social distance, and observe strict compliance to all advices as instructed by relevant authorities.

“No more weddings; burial should not have more than 30 people. Only altar weddings are allowed for now.”

The governor further said that he had advised his deputy, Benson Abounu, to go for the COVID-19 test, adding that he would also avail himself for the test.

He said that government had made available funds for the procurement of safety kits and other necessary items, but regretted that such products were nowhere in the market.

Ortom pleaded with Benue citizens residing in other states or outside the country to remain in their locations untill further notice.