Ukamaka of SACA and one of the public health officials who delivered the health talks, Edson Otobo, with some of the relief materials from SACA
Covid-19 virus was first reported in Wuhan, China in December 2019, and in January 2020 the World Health Organization declared it a pandemic. Since then the pandemic have been reported in several countries, thousands of persons have died from it in Italy, USA, Britain etc.
In Nigeria it was mostly seen as a ‘whiteman’ disease until an Italian cement company worker at Ewekoro, Ogun State in South-West Nigeria returned to Nigeria from Milan with the infection in February 25th 2020 and tested positive to the virus in Lagos in 27th February 2020. It was then the Government of Nigeria woke up to the reality, because after the first case, it spread like a wide harmattan fire to Lagos, Abuja and other cities in Nigeria. On 30th March 2020, the Government declared two weeks shutdown, which was extended by further two weeks. Inter-state travels were banned, and the airports and sea ports are shut down. The Chief of Staff to President Mohammadu Buhari, Mallam Abba Kyari, passed on due to Covid-19 infection on 17th April 2020.
SACA BOT Chairman, Father Kevin O’Hara, directed SACA to practice social distancing on Friday 20th March 2020 and all staff were advised to remain at home and keep to Covid-19 preventive rules – washing hands, applying of sanitizer on hands, keeping social distance, wearing of face mask. Staff training on Geographical Information System (GIS) was abruptly stopped.
On 11th March 2020, we received a mail from the MDO, Ms. Maureen O’Dwyer on Misean Cara Update on the ‘’evolving coronavirus’’. SACA Management met and decided on the virement of budget lines in project activities to enable SACA contribute to fighting the spread of the virus in its target host communities. A proposal was quickly put together with activities and budget, and we embarked on implementation of the outlined activities.
This report is on the activities that were performed.
SCOPE: SACA works in 5 community Clusters hosting Shell Integrated Oil and Gas Gathering Project (IOGP) in Gbarain in Bayelsa State, Nigeria. We decided to implement the “Covid-19 awareness raising sensitization” in 8 communities in 3 Clusters. Namely: Ikarama, Kalaba and Zarama-Epie Communities in Okordia/Zarama Cluster, Ogboloma, Obunagha and Gbarantoru communities in Gbarain/Ekpettiama Cluster, and Imiringi and Elebele Communities in Kolo Creek Cluster.
SACA empowered some local women to produce face masks locally for all the communities.
We partnered with Yenagoa Local Government Council Primary Health Care Department to implement this programme. We procure Covid-19 preventive kits, sanitary items and essential food supplies to impact on 20 households in each community, and to go round the eight communities in three days; starting from Okordia/Zarama Cluster on 8th April 2020.
In Okordia/Zarama Cluster, SACA visited His Royal Majesty (HRM) KING R. E. NIONIO of Zarama Clan and his elders, women and youths at Zarama-epie. At Kalaba community we met the Paramount Ruler, Chief Francis Koribo, with the elderly, widows and youths in their community town hall and at Ikarama community, the Paramount Ruler, Chief Herbertson Lamie Alfred and his cabinet, women and youth leaders at his palace.
Some of the relief materials presented by SACA at the campaign in Zarama-Epie community
Mr. Abba Ayemi in his address introduced SACA and the reporter from Bayelsa Radio Corporation who accompanied us, to the various community members. He said SACA came to visit them because of the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the State. He added that SACA came to show concern by sensitizing everyone on the preventive measures to help curb the spread of the virus in the communities, and to donate some preventive kits and food items to support the community; targeting the very poor, elderly, widows, orphans and the disabled.
Director of SACA, Abba Ayemi, Addressing the gathering at the campaign.
He introduced the Health Officer Mr. Otobo Edson from Yenagoa Local Government Council Primary Health Care Department, who we also brought with us. He asked Mr. Edson to proceed with the health talks.
Mr. Otobo Edson: Mr. Edson said that Nigeria was facing a humanitarian threat problem called COVID-19 and that SACA has decided to visit the communities to create awareness and promote best practice in prevention methods. He appreciated SACA for their efforts. He explained the nature of COVID-19 as a viral infection that affects the lungs, that there was no cure for it now, but there were ways to prevent this virus from spreading. He explained the signs & symptoms of this virus as high fever, cough, body pains, shortness of breath among others.
He advised communities to always obey directives from the Government, Ministries of Health and Information, as well as the National Center for Disease Control (NCDC), to prevent the spread of the killer virus, through regular washing of hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and runny water, cough and sneeze into tissue papers and dispose tissue papers properly or sneezes on their sleeves. He instructed that they must always use hand sanitizers. They were also advised to always clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and used objects, and avoid handshakes, hugging, touching of eyes, nose or mouth for now.
On social distancing and symptoms of the sickness, he told the people to avoid crowded places or large gatherings, keep a distance of two meters with anyone sneezing or coughing, limit contacts with sick people, stay at home or seek medical assistance when sick, and avoid selfmedication. He demonstrated the hand washing and how it should be properly done with runny water.
1. The Youth President of Kalaba community asked: If a sick person should remain at home how will the person be taken care of? Also, regarding the hand washing that was demonstrated, “most of us cannot afford the plastic bucket, what do we do?”
Response: For a sick person he/she is asked to stay at home not to die but to avoid chances of the person transmitting to others if infected. It is best for a sick person to check his/her self at the health Centre for treatment. If infected the Health Centre can report to the appropriate authority. Secondly, SACA cannot empower the whole community, but the community can pull their resources together and buy these buckets and put in strategic places to help fight this virus as many cannot all have hand sanitizers. Where there is no running water you can use a cup to pour the water but someone has to assist you in pouring the water.
2. Kalaba Community chief mentioned that the health Centre in their community has been under lock and key so in emergencies like this. “In Government lock down who do we report to?”, he asked. Mr. Otobo promised to report the matter to the office as he gets back.
3. How often do we wash our hands?
Response by Mr. Otobo: As many times as you can wash your hand.
4. At Zarama-Epie, the Clan King asked how he can pass back information since they cannot gather more than 20 persons and they are to avoid crowd?
Response: They can share themselves and disseminate this information because for now they cannot gather the whole clan or they can also use the town criers.
5. Is the spacing affecting couples especially husbands and wives?
Response: Government policies can not affect couples but the rule is that you disinfect together and stay together.
6. After using the hand sanitizer is it advisable to use your hands to eat and what is the side effect of doing so?
Response: There is no side effect of using hand sanitizers on your hands but it is advisable to wash your hands before you eat.
SACA presented to each of the 3 communities with 2 bags of rice, 1 bag of beans, 7 cartons of Indomie noodles, 5 packets of medicated soap and 25 pieces of hand sanitizers and a roll of tissue. We gave pamphlets that contain the Covid- 19 signs and symptoms with our phone number for easy contact to report any seeming case of Coronavirus.