The Bayelsa State government has revealed that 50 per cent of confirmed cases of the third wave of COVID-19 are National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members in the state orientation camp, adding that multiple disease outbreaks have been a major challenge for the State’s Public Health Emergency Operations Centre (PHEOC).

The State Epidemiologist, Dr. Bio Belu Abaye, stated this during a technical session on the State’s COVID-19 Response and Environment with officials of the United Nations in Yenagoa recently.

Speaking on the COVID-19 response so far, Dr. Abaye said Bayelsa completed its COVID-19 laboratory in August 2020, which greatly improved the State’s response but that the state has recorded 195 cases of the third wave of the virus.

Explaining further, he added that over 22, 000 people had received the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, and that out of this number only about 8,000 came back for a jab of the second dose. Dr. Abaye said the state has received 2, 700 doses of the Moderna vaccine and has begun distribution, noting that all these successes are tied to the efficiency of the Public Health Emergency Operations Centre (PHEOC), which has been managing the response since last year.

He said “50% of confirmed cases from the third wave are NYSC Corp members in the state orientation camp, and said multiple disease outbreaks have been a major challenge for the PHEOC.

“We had to simultaneously deal with cholera, monkeypox, and measles, and called for support in the employment of more professionals, provision of workspaces/equipment, funding, payment of workers, among others.”

Speaking on behalf of the Commissioner for Environment, Hon. Iselema Gbaranbiri, the Permanent Secretary, Mr. Waripamo Amaitari, said one of the major challenges of the state is the dredging of the Epie creek.

He said it will cost the government N15 billion which makes it difficult for the state to embark on, adding that the inability of water to flow from the smaller creeks and canals into the Epie Creek causes flooding in the state capital any time it rains.

The Commissioner for Water Resources, Hon. Kemebradikumo Wariebi said it has not been easy to provide safe water for all residents in the state because the iron content of the water is quite high in some areas.

He said the state plans to reactivate water schemes close to the IDP camp because if there is fecal matter in the water it leads to cholera and other diseases.

The Commissioner said there is the need to set up a well-equipped lab to test water properly and refine it and the Ministry will put up a comprehensive report and forward it to the UN.

In his response, the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator said other killer diseases are being neglected because of COVID-19, which needs to be looked into.

He said neglecting other illnesses compounds the health crisis, as such they would engage in more discussions with the Governor of the state to see how the response to other diseases can be greatly improved even as the fight against COVID-19 rages on. He urged the Commissioners to push harder for solutions to their peculiar challenges, as the solutions are out there and can be implemented for results.

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