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Civil Society Group Flays Bayelsa Govt’s Fight Against Covid-19

By Oyosongo Udoyi, Yenagoa

The Bayelsa State Civil Society COVID-19 Situation Room has described as alarming the sudden increase in the number of positive coronavirus cases and deaths recorded in the state over the past weeks without any explanation from the state government.

The group in a statement Monday in Yenagoa by its convener and the co-convener, Robinson Kuroghobogha and Dise Ogbise, said it was even more disturbing that the state government had not given official explanation for the sharp rise in the number of confirmed patients and fatalities.

It said, “The Bayelsa State Civil Society COVID-19 Situation Room is gravely concerned about the marked increase in the number of positive coronavirus cases in the state and the general state of response to the incidence of the pandemic, especially over the last month.

“This is a period which has witnessed an increase of COVID-19 cases in Bayelsa State from 12 positive cases on May 31, 2020 to the current count of over 180 cases, with 12 fatalities. This represents a fatality rate of 6.5 per cent, which is above both national fatality rate of just 2.5 per cent and the global average of five per cent.”
The group noted that there was “an obvious deficit of information” provided to citizens as the number of confirmed infections and death toll had multiplied very much over the last month.

It pointed out that lack of any official explanation for the sudden surge in confirmed cases and fatalities had created room for the peddling of rumours and harmed genuine efforts to keep citizens well-informed.

It emphasised the need for the state government to recognise the significance of proper information management in responding to the COVID-19 crisis, adding that the enforcement of guidelines on the ongoing partial lockdown remained inefficient.

The group said the information gap also fuelled speculation over “an unprecedented and inexplicable rise in cases of malaria and typhoid fever in the state over the last few weeks despite the concerns expressed by citizens and the fact that it was taking place during an extant public health emergency.”

The group, however, commended the government for the recent closing down of some pubs and issuing of further guidelines to religious worship centres.

It advised the state COVID-19 task force, especially its sub-committee on security, to be more committed in enforcing the extant guidelines on the partial lockdown to urgently curtail the spread of the virus.

While calling on the administration to respond to the demands of aggrieved resident doctors, the Bayelsa CISCOV-19 Situation Room also advised residents to observe all safety protocols.

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