By Godwin Anene
Palpable tension has enveloped residents of Bonny Island in Rivers State over strange illness that has reportedly claimed no fewer than eleven lives in the last two weeks.
This is even as officials of the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) were said to have stormed the community on Saturday to allegedly collect samples for suspected COVID-19 cases.
It was learnt that there increasing loss of smell and loss of taste among residents of the oil-rich Bonny Island as fears continue to mount.
A group, Bonny Graduate Forum (BGF), who raised the alarm on Saturday in a statement, noted that the strange had claimed 11 lives while several residents were presently receiving medical treatment at health facilities in the area.
BGF in the statement signed by its President, Mr. Awoiyeala Allison, Vice President, Mr. Rowland Hart, and Secretary, Larry Igbaningo, lamented that the strange illness cut across all strata of persons including the young and aged in the community.
According to it, “There have been increasing number of incidences of loss of smell and loss of taste experienced by residents of Bonny LGA.
“The impacted populace cuts across every strata of society but mostly adults from teenage and upwards. Aside loss of smell and loss of taste, there have been other co-symptoms as weakness, stooling, coughing, headache, and very frequent fever.
“The disease burden is reported high by the medical community and noticeable in every medical facility in Bonny. There have been unexplainable numbers of deaths in the past two weeks, at the least 11 persons reported dead and causes currently being investigated.
“The medical community in Bonny is already profiling this trend and working with NCDC to ascertain probable infiltration of the community by Coronavirus. As at today, NCDC officials are in town, taking samples from volunteers to test for COVID-19 and will soon make their findings public.”
However, the group has called on residents of Bonny to exercise great caution following the development, adding that the illness they suspect could not be unconnected to the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic in the state.
“BGF advises residents and visitors to take utmost caution. It is generally advised that people stay indoors. More importantly, strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols has become necessary, including social distancing, washing of hands, use of hand sanitizers and avoidance of large gatherings”, it added.