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The advent of the Coronavirus pandemic has exposed how unprepared we are to respond to emergency situations in our dear state of Abia. While we do not quarrel with the role of God in situations like this, we would want to remind us that God helps those who help themselves. The holy scriptures also admonish us that faith without works is dead. Again, we are reminded that we should not ask God to do for us, what he has equipped us to do for ourselves.

Our enquiries reveal that we are not very prepared in the state should this pandemic hit us. This is in spite of the claims made by Abia State government in the last couple of days. For instance, we have been told by experts on ground that Abia State Teaching Hospital has no prepared isolation centre for likely cases of the pandemic. It has only one ventilator which is a basic minimum standard equipment to to deal with patients of the virus. The Federal Medical Centre Umuahia which has a new four bed isolation centre and three ventilators is the only health facility that is ready to receive and attend to patients in the state, even though it is a Federal government facility. The state government spoke about a certain hospital in Amachara Umuahia. It is unfortunate that the government is referring to a hospital with no isolation Centre and no ventilators and therefore not in any state to attend to Coronavirus cases. A major challenge is also the provision of gears and personal protection equipment for the medical personnel who are supposed to attend to patients. This is of utmost importance as the safety of our medical personnel is not negotiable. They must be alive to save lives.

In the light of the above sad realities, I have as a private citizen, decided to intervene as follows:

1. The Alex Otti Foundation has been directed to provide 25,000 pairs of Medical Hand Gloves, 2,500 units of Medical Facial Masks and 2,500 units of Medical Personal Protection Robes, 2,500 Pairs of Medical Glasses, and 2,500 pairs of Medical Booths to the Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia. These Medical Equipment have been paid for and should reach the Federal Medical Centre before the end of the week.

2. The Alex Otti Foundation has taken delivery of a Six Bedroom Duplex with two room boys quarters in Umuocham, Aba which will be handed over to the Living World Hospital, also in Umuocham Aba, free of charge, for conversion to an isolation Centre in Aba. This property is just a few minutes away from the hospital and arrangements have been made with the hospital to operate this Centre. Again, 25,000 Pairs of Medical Hand Gloves, 2,500 units of Medical Facial Masks, 2,500 units of Medical Personal Protection Robes, 2,500 Pairs of Medical Glasses, and 2,500 pairs of Medical Booths would be provided to Living World Hospital Aba to support medical personnel.

3. The Alex Otti Foundation has been empowered and has actually opened up discussion with the management of the hospital owned by All Aro USA in Arochukwu, to serve as an emergency Centre to deal with possible Coronavirus cases coming out of Abia North. Again, the same protective gears would be made available to the hospital when all agreements are in place.

4. We also realised that the Catholic hospital in Umuahia, the Madonna Hospital is in a position to handle Coronavirus cases. We have contacted the hospital and the management was excited to partner with us. To this end, the foundation will also provide personal gears and protective equipment for the medical personnel while working with the hospital on providing another isolation Centre in Umuahia, where possible.

5. The foundation has paid for and taken delivery of several cartons of hand sanitizers and facial masks to assist Abia Citizens who may be in need of those items for self protection. These are available for collection from their offices in Umuahia, Aba and Ohafia on a first come, first served basis.

Finally, may I remind the government of Abia State of the old saying that prevention is better than cure. It is therefore expedient that the government rises to the occasion and bans pubic gatherings of any kind including weddings, burials, birthday and Chieftaincy celebrations, church and mosque services, schools and markets for non essential goods, while ensuring serious supervision at markets where essential goods are sold. These may look difficult but it is better to be safe than sorry. This pandemic is real and should be treated with all the seriousness it deserves, because victory against Coronavirus can only be achieved through vigilance, seriousness, sincerity and collectivism.
We also implore fellow citizens to maintain the highest level of hygiene as recommended by experts. Washing of hands with soaps should be observed as many times as possible in a day. Use of sanitizers should be part of our new routine. Social distancing and voluntary quarantine should be seen as compulsory depending on the peculiar circumstances. We must not be shy to report suspected cases to the appropriate authorities. Above all, we must avoid the dissemination of false information, and concealment of information relating to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Corona virus is no respecter of persons. It is wise to protect yourself and family from the attack. We cannot afford to continue to live in denial.

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