The Edo State government has said that its concern over the economic hardship in the country and its implication on the people of the state has made it difficult to decide whether or not to impose a total lockdown on the state over the rampaging coronavirus.
Expressing this concern on Wednesday in Benin City, the state capital, the governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, reiterated that with 11 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Edo State, as at April 8, evidence showed that the number of cases was likely to increase significantly in the next few weeks.
The governor, who has just completed 14-day self-isolation, after exposure to confirmed cases of coronavirus, stated that throughout the isolation period, he effectively coordinated the state’s efforts to stem the spread of the deadly virus.
He said: “As at today (Wednesday), Edo State has 11 confirmed cases and sadly one death from COVID-19. Unfortunately, from the evidence we now have, the number of cases is likely to increase significantly in the next few weeks, unless we take very drastic actions now, to slow down the spread.
“We have gathered information that large numbers of our citizens who travelled back home in the last several weeks from overseas may not have self-isolated themselves. Although majority of the current cases are individuals with travel history and their relatives, in the coming days, we are likely to see community transmission of the virus to people who do not have any travel history.”
Obaseki noted that Edo government’s response strategy was geared towards ensuring that the livelihoods of the people were protected.
He said: “Edo State government is very reluctant to have a total shut down of the state, because of the hardship it will cause to our people. However, if we are going to stop the spread of the virus, every person must be involved, it must be a shared responsibility. Government alone cannot stop it, without the active cooperation of the citizens.
“The COVID-19 virus does not spread on its own. It is people who spread it when they move around. So, if we can reduce the movement of people for a period, and keep safe distance from other people, the virus will not spread. Government will now strictly enforce all the guidelines which have been announced to control the spread of COVID-19.
“For the next 14 days, it is compulsory that every person in Edo State must wear a face mask in public. The Edo State Association of Tailors and Fashion Designers are mass-producing high-quality reusable face masks at affordable prices. Any gathering of more than 20 people will be immediately dispersed and persons involved will be prosecuted.
“Markets in Edo State will be shut for fumigation, sanitisation and thorough cleaning over the next 30 days. All those selling essential items like food and medicines will be relocated by the local government to the nearest open spaces where they can sell, while observing social distancing regulations.
“The Edo State government will shut down any hotel found to be hosting guests who travelled from outside Edo State and did not inform the COVID-19 response team to screen such guests. Vehicles with passengers not adhering to the social distancing regulations will be impounded and the driver will be prosecuted.”
The governor of Edo State also urged residents of the state to take ownership of the campaign to rid the state of the Coronavirus pandemic.
He said: “Every business premises and household must have hand-washing facilities at points of entry and should please insist that everyone must wash their hands before entering.
“All government hospitals and primary healthcare centres will be used as screening centres to screen citizens who believe they may have been exposed or suspect that they may have symptoms of COVID-19. We have now completed the first set of training for all health workers in Edo State, who will man the screening and isolation centres.”
Obaseki also stated that Edo government would work with the local governments, religious organisations and traditional rulers to distribute food items to the most affected and the most vulnerable members of the communities.