DELTA State Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, has partially relaxed the lockdown order in the State with effect from Thursday 30th April, making the use of face mask compulsory in public places as part of measures to sustain the containment of the spread of dreaded coronavirus pandemic in the State.
Okowa in a broadcast, however, said all borders in and out of the State would remain closed for another two weeks, adding that “only essential supplies; food, beverages, medicals, pharmaceuticals, petroleum and agricultural products are exempted from this order.”
He also directed that civil servants on grade level 12 and above to resume work with effect from Thursday, April 30th, saying that “this order does not apply to junior staff on essential/emergency duties.
“Workers with comorbidities identified by the Ministry of Health or its agencies can work from home. However, workplace protocols should be in place for disease surveillance/prevention, including screening, use of facemasks and social distancing.
“Let me reiterate that security agencies have been advised to ensure strict compliance with the above directives. Violators will be prosecuted, without fear or favour.
“Conferences, sporting activities, gathering of people in convention/event centres, sports fields, public/open spaces, as well as recreational and cultural/communal activities remain banned until 31st May 2020.
“While burials and weddings will be allowed, the social distancing rule (6ft apart) must be applied, and the number of guests/persons must not exceed 50.
“Our schools (public and private) remain closed until Sunday, 31st May 2020. Entertainment centres, including cinemas, bars and night clubs remain closed until Sunday, 31st May 2020.
“Restaurants/Canteens/Beer Parlours are to operate on a take-away basis while hotels will be allowed to open (with in-room dining) but their restaurants, bars and night clubs remain closed till further notice.
“While transport services (Keke, taxis, buses) are allowed to operate, a number of passengers shall be as follows: 2 persons at the back for Keke; one person at the front seat and two persons at the back for a taxi; 10-12 persons for a 16-seater/18-seater bus.
Our airports remain closed to passenger traffic until further notice.
“I shall be meeting with our religious leaders on Thursday, 30th April 2020 to chart the way forward for our places of worship. However, all crusades/conventions remain banned until further notice.
“Henceforth, it is mandatory for all residents in the State to make use of facemasks in the public. Anybody leaving his/her home must wear a facemask effective Thursday 30th APRIL 2020 till further notice.
“They must be worn in public places including offices, markets, malls, supermarkets, salons, hospitals and health clinics, churches, mosques, as well as all approved gatherings of persons.
“Traders/market women are all required to wear facemasks while carrying out their businesses. The Local Government Chairmen are hereby directed to work out the modalities for the operations of the markets in their domain, especially with regards to social distancing and other sanitation protocols.
“Hairdressing/barbing Salons must never be crowded; owners are hereby directed to restrict the number of persons inside to a minimum number that will facilitate appropriate social distancing. As much as possible, workers in these establishments should wear hand gloves.
“The State Government will by tomorrow (today) commence, in the first instance, the distribution of a million cloth facemasks to residents in the State, using the Local Government offices as channels.
“Meanwhile, those who can afford it are also advised to make their own procurements. The benefit of the cloth facemasks is that they can be washed and reused.
“I assure all Deltans and residents that we shall continue to put processes in place to limit the transmission of the virus by ensuring rapid identification of cases and contacts, more testing, isolation/quarantine as necessary, staff training/motivation and provision of logistics/supplies.
“I wish to appeal to us to please stay indoors as much as possible and only go out when it is necessary. You need not travel or visit persons for whatever conversation, business or action you can conclude on the phone or by using other electronic media.
“Please wash your hands regularly with soap and water; use alcohol-based sanitisers as an alternative. And it is very important that you do not touch your mouth, eyes and nose with unwashed hands.
“If you fall sick with fever, cough and/or breathlessness, please do not panic. Call the Local Government Chairman, Councillor, Executive Secretary or Disease Surveillance and Notification Officer in your Local Government Area. You can also call the Emergency Operation Centre on these numbers: 0803 123 0480; 0803 123 0481; 0803 123 0528; 0803 123 0529.
“Pray always and endeavour to use this time to strengthen your family bonds. Together, and with God on our side, we shall overcome.”
Continuing, Okowa said: “Except for some minor incidents here and there, our State has been relatively peaceful during the lockdown. It speaks of your trust and confidence in the integrity of the structures and processes we put in place to combat the coronavirus pandemic. We are, indeed, very grateful for your support and partnership.
“The security agencies also deserve our commendation for their sacrifice, patience and professional conduct. We have every reason to believe that the lockdown has helped to limit the spread of the virus in our State.
“As at today, six cases of COVID-19 have been incidented; five of the patients are doing well in our case management centres. Sadly, we lost one of them who presented himself late to the medical authorities; his test report, which turned out to be positive, was received after his unfortunate demise.
“The period of the lockdown, while enabling us to break the chain of transmission, also gave us the leeway to easily trace, identify, isolate and test contacts of infected persons. As at today, we have a low virus spread in the State and our health system can be said to be in a state of readiness with the health staff fully committed and motivated to discharge their responsibilities in a professional, ethical and safe manner.
“As we begin to ease the lockdown restrictions, the sensible approach is to do it in a gradual, systematic, and orderly manner so that we do not wipe out the gains of the past four weeks. We are very mindful of the fact that each day of the lockdown was tough economically and particularly agonising for those in the informal sector who live on the daily income.
“To mitigate the harsh economic effects of the lockdown, the State Government distributed food items to all 270 wards in the State, coordinated by a cross-section of leaders at the Local Government Area/Ward levels. We are currently also expecting some food items from the Federal Government and Ca-Covid for onward distribution to the poor and vulnerable. At this juncture, I wish to thank all those who donated generously to our COVID-19 Relief fund.
“As we gradually relax the restriction of movement, I must caution that it is not yet uhuru; life, as we have known it, is still a long way off. We must, therefore, brace ourselves up to adjust to the new normal in all our personal, official and business dealings going forward.
“As an administration, we remain irrevocably committed to doing everything necessary to protect the lives and property of citizens in the State, in addition to providing a safe and secure environment for them to pursue their dreams of success and happiness.”