Gov. Simon Lalong of Plateau said the State Government had spent about N366.5 million to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in the state.
Lalong disclosed this on Friday at a stakeholders meeting with traditional leaders at Government House, Jos, to enlighten residents on the prevalance of COVID-19 in the state.
“In terms of financial commitment, the state government has so far committed about N366.5 million to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in the state.
“Additionally, we launched the Plateau State COVID-19 Endowment Fund which saw good spirited individuals and corporate organisations making donations.
“We are grateful to kind-hearted people that contributed about N123. 3 million as well as other food and medical items valued at about N155 million.
”The World Health Organisation also recently donated N100 million to the state government which has greatly helped us to treat those infected by the virus.
“In addition, we received donations by the Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) comprising of Maize Flour, Pasta, Noodles, Sugar, Salt, and Semolina worth about N850 million for distribution to 39,993 households across the 17 local government areas of the state.
”We are still expecting rice consignment from the CACOVID donation which will be distributed to the beneficiaries,” he said.
He also disclosed that the state government had set up a committee in preparation for reopening of schools in the state.
The governor said the committee was headed by the Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Danladi Atu.
He said teachers and principals had been trained as part of the preparations, and schools were disinfected and task teams established to ensure compliance to all laid down COVID-19 protocols .
“Once we finish with exit classes, we shall gradually cascade to other classes within secondary and primary levels.
“The success we record at these levels shall determine the reopening of tertiary institutions, all in a bid to guarantee the safety of our children and avoid resurgence of the virus.
“We hope that if all goes well, our schools should all re-open by the end of October,” he said.
Lalong expressed concern that the biggest challenge in combating of the pandemic was lack of compliance to guidelines and protocols, denials and resistance to contact tracing and testing by some individuals.
He said the role of traditional and community leaders was critical in sensitising and educating the people on the disease, and that their support and cooperation would assist to overcome non compliance to guidelines.
He said the meeting with the leaders was crucial to forestall further spread of the disease as it was convened to enable them to educate their followers to take personal responsibility for their health and the health of others.
“Many people are not using the face masks, washing their hands or maintaining social distancing.
“As royal fathers, we expect you to lead in the next phase of our advocacy and sensitisation to attain better compliance, particularly now that we are witnessing the opening up of more sectors of the economy.
“We need to wake up our people from laxity. It is important to note that COVID-19 is not over yet,” he said.
The State Commissioner for Health, Dr Nimkong Lar, said at the occasion that the high number of cases of the disease recorded in Plateau was as a result of high asymptomatic cases.
Nimkong said non adherence to COVID-19 preventive measures, wrong perception of the disease and hesitancy of confirmed cases to commence treatment, also contributed to the high number of cases.
“Inadequate manpower to carry out contact tracing and follow-up of confirmed cases and the massive community testing being carried out in the state are also reasons for the high number of cases,” he said.
He expressed the need for more community engagement, procurement of more laboratory consumables, strengthening of rapid response teams and moral and financial support to the National Veterinary and Research Institute for the discharge of their duties.
In his remarks the Chairman of the Plateau State Council of Chiefs and Emirs, the Gbong Gwom Jos, Da Jacob Buba Gyang, commended the governor on his efforts at combating the disease, while assuring him of the traditional rulers’ cooperation by enlightening residents of the state on preventive measures.
Newsmen report that Plateau is ranked fourth highest in the number of COVID-19 cases in the country , with 3,175 cases as at Sept. 17, with 62 health workers affected, while 922 patients of the disease are on admission.