Public and private primary and secondary schools in Rivers State can now reopen on the 6th of October 2014, instead of the September 22 announced by the federal government.
Commissioner for Health, Dr. Sampson Parker, hinged the state’s decision on the belief that the number of primary and secondary contacts that are currently being traced and under surveillance would have reduced significantly by that date.
Parker, at a press briefing in Port Harcourt yesterday, announced that schools in the state would have to shelve their earlier resumption dates to at least two weeks after the September 22 date announced by the Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu.
He stated that primary and secondary schools are actually within the jurisdiction of the state ministry of education, Nigeria being a federation; hence the decision to resume on October 6 does not in any way contradict the position of the federal government.
“We currently have 253 contacts under surveillance and we hope that by weekend, the number would have come down significantly.
‘We expect that quite a number of those under surveillance would have been discharged in batches.
We had a suspected case at the isolation unit, but the result of the test proved negative.
“By October 2, we can say with a measure of confidence that the outbreak of Ebola is over in Rivers State.
“We can say that the spread of Ebola is over in Nigeria, from the results that have come out of our collective efforts. Our challenge will remain Liberia, Sierra Leon and Guinea,” he said.
Parkercontinued: “Remember that the condition of Rivers is peculiar, considering the fact that the outbreak of Ebola in our state is the most recent. Rivers is the state that is currently hard hit by the Ebola disease in Nigeria.
“The minister said that schools could resume as from September 22. We have to take into consideration our local concerns.”
The commissioner warned that any school in the state that fails to meet the standard of its health regulations would be closed down, saying the state government would not accept anything below the required health standard stipulated and made available to schools.
He assured that the government would provide whatever is needful for the schools to meet up with environmental and health requirements.
“Parents should not send their sick children to schools. The regulation of schools will be more rigorous this time around.
“We acknowledge the reality that we are in an emergency situation right now, but we will do all that is needful to contain the spread of Ebola in Rivers State,” he added.
Gough said the Ebola outbreak in Nigeria is not a community outbreak, but one that is localised, pointing out that because of the pro-active effort of the Nigerian government in tackling the dreaded disease, its spread is on the downward scale and at such, children should be allowed to return to school, which she described as the safest place for them.
“I offer my support to train teachers to make sure that we know what to do and that I think is the best we can do for our children to make sure that they are stay in school and not only come to school, but stay and learn,” she said.
The UNICEF representative lauded the efforts of the Rivers State government in containing the spread of the disease, which has claimed several lives in the West African sub-region.
She, however, called for vigilance, as the virus continues to ravage some countries in West Africa.
“We are proud of Nigeria, but at the same time, Nigeria now has more work to do, because of the movement of people across the border. People keep moving, so Nigeria has to make sure people infected with the virus don’t cross into Nigeria.
“We are proud of Nigeria’s medical personnel and suggest that Nigeria should join the African Union (AU) and ECOWAS to provide medical personnel to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea,” Gough stated.
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