From Yakubu Busari, Jos
The people of Heipang in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau State have raised the alarm over the threat of coronavirus outbreak in their community due to the presence of an ill-equipped quarantine center there.
According to youths from the area, the Quarantine Centre at Godiya Tourists Resort adjacent to the Plateau State Polytechnic Main Campus, Heipang is sited within residential area and the workers there are not trained, neither are they equipped with Personal Protective Equipment, PPE.
Spokesman of the community, Rwang Tengwong and Chairman of BYM, Heipang District told our correspondent in Jos that the location of the center on April 14 by the state government was causing anxiety and fear among the people
“The community also expressed fears that workers in the facility who are members of the community are being exposed to danger of contracting coronavirus disease as they are not health workers, have received no training whatsoever and are not using personal protective equipment.”
Tengwong fears there is a possibility that “these innocent workers who are only trying to put food on the table of their families have been exposed to great risk.
He said the youths of Heipang community found that rather than relocate the center or equip it appropriately, the government admitted new inmate into Godiya Tourists Resort on the April 23 and 24 for quarantine.
“Sadly also is the fact that the index case stayed for 48 hours at the facility after she was confirmed positive of COVID 19. Also, members of the community who work in the hotel still offer services as against the WHO guideline which says their services be withdrawn and Health Workers take over the facility,” he said, adding,
“As a Community, we expect that with the confirmed case recorded in the state, government will be more committed to ensure that citizens are not further exposed to the risk of spreading the dreaded disease by immediately quarantine of all workers of the hotel, relocate the inmates and immediately decontaminate the facility to stop community spread of the virus.
While expressing appreciation of what he called the prompt action the government has taken to handle the virus and expressed the readiness of the community to support the initiative, he however suggested that a better facility exists at the Jos Inland Container Dry Port, which is in the outskirt of Heipang.
“We will also note that members of our community who have rendered services at Godiya Tourists Resort should be quarantined to avoid the risk of community spread of COVID 19 while members be randomly tested.”
In reaction to the community’s expressed fears, the state government through the Commissioner of Health, Dr. Ninkong Lar Ndam, during a live radio programme on April 20, admitted that the said facility did not follow WHO guidelines as it is located within residential area and promised to relocate the quarantine centre from it’s present location to the NYSC Camp after the end of the 14 days quarantine period for the first batch of inmates which ended on Monday, April, 27.
But events seemed to have prevented government from fulfilling its plans as the state recorded its first confirmed case of COVID 19 on April 23, a 20- year old woman who returned from Kano state and had to be quarantined at Godiya Tourists Resort in Heipang Community from the April 21 before testing positive to the virus three days later.
Investigation shows government which has pledged to put the lives of the people first in the fight of the coronavirus, would do something before the situation gets out of hand, according to a dependable government source.