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Gov Ayade releases N500m, 20 vehicles to COVID-19 response team

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By Joseph Kingston, Calabar

As Cross River state government continues to strategise against the Covid-19 threat, Gov Ben Ayade has released the sum of N500 million and 20 vehicles to the 15-man Response Team saddled with the responsibility of safeguarding the State against the global scourge.

The Governor, who spoke in Calabar, Tuesday, while inaugurating the Team, said it was the desire of his administration to ensure Cross River remained Covid 19-free, and that “To achieve this, we are hereby setting up this Taskforce whose core mandate is to guarantee the full implementation of the lockdown of our borders to ensure that medicines, food supplies and welfare packages are made available to our people.

Medical staff members wearing protective clothing to help stop the spread of a deadly virus which began in the city, arrive with a patient at the Wuhan Red Cross Hospital in Wuhan on January 25, 2020. – The Chinese army deployed medical specialists on January 25 to the epicentre of a spiralling viral outbreak that has killed 41 people and spread around the world, as millions spent their normally festive Lunar New Year holiday under lockdown. (Photo by Hector RETAMAL / AFP) (Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images)

“We are sensitive to the challenges of locking down a state where people have barely earned their last salary, therefore, the social sensitivity of our lockdown must reflect in the subsequent actions we take. Against this background, I’m setting up this taskforce with subcommittees. As I said before, this taskforce is to realise a COVID 19- free Cross River.

“We are releasing the sum of N500 million in the first instance. I will like to announce also that we have received the sum of N28 million from UBA, we are also going to get support from Zenith Bank and First Bank. We hope that other corporate organisations will at this time come to our rescue.

“As a state whose last allocation was little above N1b, Cross River cannot afford to have even a single COVID 19 incident, so prevention indeed is better than cure. And to achieve this, public fumigation of public centres becomes imperative.

“You are also to ensure that citizens have access to food, access to livelihood because after the Coronavirus comes humanity. And so we must be careful so that we dont create social vices- increased in criminality because of lack of food.That is why the Food Bank Director- General must recognize that food supplies to the various,” he stated.

The Governor therefore called on the federal government to give special treatment to Cross River as a result of its strategic border location, noting “Cross River is an international border state, and with the incident in Cameroon, I call on President Muhammadu Buhari, I call on the Minister of Health to treat Cross River in a very peculiar way. We need the obvious and express attention of the federal government”

The governor charged the team to work assiduously to ensure that all preventive measures against the spread were adhered to, adding “You are all aware that there is no unanimity about the history of this global pandemic but Cross River must find ways and provide a leading direction at the sub-national level. It is therefore, our desire to ensure that Cross River continues to maintain zero incident as far as this pandemic is concerned.

“The closure of our borders no doubt has come with adverse consequences for our people. I have a moral obligation to give our people protection. It is against this background therefore, that I’m asking the Chairman of this Task Force to expedite action in ensuring that in all of those border points, proper screenings must take place so that all those who are free must get all the necessary medical supplies- sanitizers, nose masks etc.”

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