The COVID-19 Situation Room which is a coalition of Civil Society groups including Social Action, set up to monitor government’s response to the pandemic and provide support in creating massive awareness amongst the populace, has visited different communities in the State to monitor people’s response to the pandemic and create awareness about it. The Situation Room embarked on a massive outreach in various communities to enlighten the people of Bayelsa State on the risks posed by the coronavirus and the need to prevent getting infected by adhering strictly to all stipulated safety measures such as keeping safe distance from others, regular washing of the hands, frequent use of the hand sanitiser, wearing of face mask in public, eating healthy meals and engaging in physical exercises regularly.
CSO COVID-19 Situation Room distributing flyers and hand sanitisers to members of the public in Bayelsa State
The Situation Room in collaboration with the Bayelsa State government and the State-owned COVID-19 Task Force have unrelentingly disseminated information to residents of the State on the dangers posed when someone suspected of having contracted the virus goes into hiding. The people were taught to shun stigmatisation and contact the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC)if they experienced symptoms of the disease. Some of the symptoms include, fever, incessant coughing, dryness in the throat, difficulty in breathing and diarrhoea.
A member of the CSO Situation Room enlightening a woman about COVID-19 while giving her a flyer.
The Situation Room took up the initiative to embark on an aggressive COVID-19 sensitisation campaign, taking the message – Health First, directly to the grassroots, urging them to protect their health first in order to stay alive to keep their livelihoods. It was a message of enlightenment, solidarity and hope, making them aware that they could protect themselves and others around them simply by complying with the health safety guidelines in order to stop the spread of the virus and flatten the curve.
People being enlightened on the use of the hand sanitiser and the need to stay safe, by the CSO Situation Room members
The Situation Room has remained focused on its resolve to play an active role in the bid to rid Bayelsa State of coronavirus through public sensitisation. The public outreach and engagements embarked upon by the Situation Roomis yielding the desired results as more residents of the state are becoming aware of what they must do to curb the spread of coronavirus. There is also less stigmatisation of persons confirmed to have contracted the virus. So far, of the 4,399 confirmed cases recorded in Nigeria as at May 11, 2020, only six of those confirmed cases were discovered in Bayelsa State and this, though significant, is a far cry from the numbers recorded in most States which are notably higher than Bayelsa’s. The low number of confirmed cases in the State could be attributed to the widespread sensitisation conducted in the State and the improvement in the level of compliance with safety guidelines by the people of the State.
CSO COVID-19 Situation Room on a sensitisation mission in a community in Bayelsa
Barely two months ago, the level of awareness in the state was abysmally low and this was compounded by the lack of adequate mechanisms put in place by the government to raise awareness about the pandemic. The government was able to set up two Isolation Centres in the State, but there was so much misinformation amongst the people about coronavirus because of the poor dissemination of accurate information. With the aid of public address systems and printed banners, the Situation Room personnel moved around the State, educating the people about the disease, sharing flyers bearing key information on the mode of transmission of the virus and how to keep safe, while giving out hand sanitisers to people.
The CSO COVID-19 Situation Room, working in collaboration with the State Ministry of Information, collated information on public compliance and proffered strategies to the government on how to make information dissemination much more effective in the respective Local Government Areas in the State. In its meeting with the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, the Situation Room called for a review of government’s risk communication strategies and solicited for the support of corporate bodies and the media. The Situation Room effectively improved communications between the government, the State Task Force and the CSos, while reviewing and relating feedback from the grassroot-community folks to the government. The government in recognition of the job so far carried out by the Situation Room through media advocacy and field work, appreciated the efforts and its beneficial outcome, in the face of the lingering pandemic.
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