By Jethro Ibileke
With less than a week to the hosting of the 20th edition of the National Sports Festival (NSF) in Benin City, the Edo State capital, the state government said it will deploy five scanners and infrared thermometers to be stationed at the stadiums and the Benin Airport to check for high body temperature of athletes and spectators during the games.
No fewer that 150 medical personnel will also be deployed to offer essential medical services and other measures to ward off the coronavirus outbreak during the games.
Chairman, Local Organising Committee (LOC) of the game and Deputy Governor of the state, Phillip Shaibu, disclosed this during a press conference at the Secretariat for the 2020 NSF in Government House, Benin City.
He disclosed that two isolation wards have been put in place for eventualities, adding that the state government has taken necessary measures to ward off the Covid-19 outbreak at the NSF 2020.
According to him, “We will be monitoring the contingents as they arrive in Edo. We are going to screen them before they have access into the city and the games village where they will be accommodated.
“We will commence daily screening for all the athletes and officials before every game. We have two isolation wards put in place for eventualities.”
Shaibu said discussion was on-going with the Federal Ministry of Youths and Sports, and the Main Organising Committee (MOC) on whether to allow foreign athletes to participate in the games.
Chairman, Medical Sub-Committee of the Local Organising Committee (LOC), Prof. Darlington Obaseki, said as part of preparedness for the Edo 2020 NSF scheduled to hold from March 22 to April 1, in Benin City, 150 medical personnel, including orthopaedic surgeons, anaesthetists, physiotherapists, pharmacists, 45 paramedics, nurses and other auxiliary staff are ready to provide medical services.
Obaseki, who is the Chief Medical Director, University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH), noted: “We are ready to provide medical services to cover about 11,500 athletes and coaches as well as spectators for the games.”
He noted that comprehensive medical centres would be mounted at the games’ village, the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium as well as accommodation halls for athletes and coaches.
Obaseki added that 30 mobile medical units had been constituted and would be stationed at the different sporting arenas, which will be supported with 10 ambulances with effective communication system to go around the different game centres.
He said five mobile ambulance carts would be procured for quick retrieval of injured athletes from the field, adding that to prevent the spread of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), there will be continuous health awareness on the need to always wash hands with soap and water, and promote the use of hand sanitizers that would be provided at the game venues and accommodation centres.
Representative of the Chief Medical Director of Irrua Special Teaching Hospital, Prof. Danny Asogun, said test kits are available at the Hospital to test samples for coronavirus and give results within eight hours.
He added that the two samples tested for coronavirus in the hospital were negative, assuring members of the public not to panic as there was no case of the virus in the state.
The Edo State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Patrick Okundia, said that different health teams are carrying out sensitisation campaigns across the state, including motor parks, on the need to have hands washing points, noting that contact information has been released to different transportation operators to report suspected cases.