Imo health commissioner dismisses rumour of 37 COVID-19 deaths in Mbitolu LG

The commissioner says there are no such deaths in the area.

Imo health commissioner dismisses rumour of 37 COVID-19 deaths in Mbitolu LG  (Premium Times)

Imo Commissioner for Health, Dr Bartholomew Okorochukwu, on Wednesday dismissed rumours that 37 persons died of COVID-19 in Mbitolu Local Government Area of the state.

Okorochukwu told a news conference in Owerri that the rumour was unfounded.

He said that an investigation by a health surveillance team led by a director of public health, who visited the area, indicated that there were no such deaths.

“This news briefing became necessary based on the news making the rounds that there were about 37 persons in Mbitolu Local Government Area that died within the space of one week and that the town was in turmoil.

“We received information that the villagers were in shock, running helter-skelter, and that they wanted the state government to come urgently to their rescue.

“One of the key things our health team noticed on arrival was that people went about their normal businesses with no form of pandemonium anywhere,’’ he noted.

He explained that interactions with the local government chairman, counsellors, local chiefs and villagers suggested that there was no pandemic in the area.

He said what was gathered was that some deaths had occurred over a long period of time but burial rites had not been conducted for them.

“On enquiry, we discovered that the relatives were not ready with burial rites and that the deaths resulted from accidents, illnesses and old age and they did not occur in quick succession

“We advised them against delaying such burials because of current global health challenges,’’ the commissioner stated.

He added that the ministry and team of experts were keeping surveillance on the area as well as its neighbouring towns for any eventuality.

While stressing the severity of the third wave of COVID-19, Okorochukwu expressed concerns that most residents no longer took precautions and had relaxed the observance of the COVID-19 safety protocols.

He warned that even if people did not see the predicted deaths in the first wave of the virus, it did not warrant a relaxation of the safety protocols.

The commissioner also told newsmen that three persons died between June and September from COVID-19 infection, noting that their cases would have been better managed if they were vaccinated.

Okorochukwu said that most of the isolation centres in the state had between 22 and 24 persons undergoing COVID-19 treatment.

We are lucky that most of them came on time even though we lost some. Throughout this period, we only had about three deaths recorded in the state.

“The Delta variant is a killer and we should try all we can to avoid it. Let’s maintain the protocols,’’ he advised.

Okorochukwu said there was an improvement in the number persons indicating interest in the vaccine and urged members of the public to make themselves available for vaccination.

He urged residents to visit local government headquarters and major health facilities in the state for vaccination, noting that no report of a side-effect of the vaccine had been reported.

“The essence of the vaccination is that once you are vaccinated, even if you have the infection, the degree of manifestation will not be as bad as that of an unvaccinated person,’’ he stressed.

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