There was anxiety among health workers at the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital (ISTH) Wednesday as a truckload of persons numbering 84 believed to have arrived from Kano state came to the hospital. This is as another vehicle transporting 26 persons said to be coming from Rivers State was intercepted and all detainees from the two arrests are being subjected to screening and testing to ascertain their COVID-19 status. Special adviser to the governor on media and communication strategy, Crusoe Osagie, however, confirmed that three out of the 26 from Rivers State had already tested positive to COVID-19. The government said the 110 persons would be escorted out of the state.
The Irrua incident was said to have caused panic amongst management and staff of the hospital many of whom reportedly abandoned work for personal safety. A source told Tell that “When I arrived the hospital this morning, I saw a multitude being guarded by the police, and on enquiry, I was told they were intercepted overnight and they said they were going to Lagos. They said they have dropped some in Aviele; that they are from Kano. The Police kept them overnight and then informed the state governor who immediately ordered that they should all be subjected to COVID-19 test before any action would be taken about them. They have been isolated and urgent testing has began to know the status of each of them”
The Public Relations Officer of the hospital, Odijie Ohue said he was not authorized to speak on the matter. However, the Police Public Relations Officer, Chidi Nwabuzor who confirmed the incident, said “Operatives intercepted the vehicle and took them to Irrua police station. When counted, it was 84 human beings, including the driver. And when they were interrogated, they said they were coming from the north. They were taken to Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital for proper medical check and that has been done. The state government order is that security agents should escort them away to where they said they were going to, and that is the West, either Ogun State or Lagos”.
Briefing journalists, the Commissioner for Health, Patrick Okundia, said the 26 travelers in a truck were traveling from Rivers State and intercepted by security operatives at the AGIP Junction along Sapele Road, Benin City and moved to the Stella Obasanjo Hospital for screening and testing to ascertain their COVID-19 status before they would be allowed to continue their journey. The commissioner noted that the truck was loaded with bags of salt. On the travelers from Kano, Okundia said “The management of the ISTH is screening and testing them. We are communicating and exchanging reports. The essence is to screen these persons and get them tested after which they will be allowed back into their truck to continue their journey and Police officers will escort them out of the state”.
John Monday, driver of the truck with registration number LSF 679 XZ spotted at Edo Central, said he had just finished delivering his goods and decided to pick up the passengers who he claimed he charged between N500 and N700 on his way from Kano State en-route Ogun State.