More States, FCT Tell Workers to Stay at Home

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•Bauchi gov in self-isolation
•Aisha Buhari advocates complete lockdown

Our Correspondents

The rising cases of COVID-19 yesterday forced more states to ask their non-essential workers to stay at home in a desperate effort to check the spread of the pandemic.
Edo, Kaduna, Niger, Bauchi and Osun states joined Lagos, Kwara, Zamfara, Enugu, Anambra and Ebonyi states in slamming a stay-at-home order on their workers, particularly those from level 1-12.

Edo State Government, which yesterday confirmed its first case, said the measure and many more had been put in place to curtail the spread of the pandemic in the state.

The Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, while briefing journalists in Benin City on the preparedness of his government in tackling the spread of the virus in the state said though the state was witnessing its first case, there was no need to panic.

“COVID-19 is not a death sentence, so there is no need to panic. With swift identification and proper and management and care, many persons who had been infected with the virus have made full recoveries if we all work together to take the right precautions,” he said, advising citizens to practise social distancing to prevent COVID-19 from spreading.

He prohibited gatherings of more than 50 people and said all schools remained closed in the state until further notice.
The governor said public transportation would remain in operation but warned against crowding in commercial vehicles.

“All public officers below grade level 12 (except those providing essential services such as fire and healthcare) should work from home till further notice,” he directed, adding: “Citizens are advised to postpone unnecessary travels in and out of Edo state and if possible stay at home.”

Kaduna to Enforce Restriction on Large Gathering

In Kaduna State, the government said it would commence the enforcement of restrictions on large gatherings, especially in churches and mosques.
Governor Nasir el-Rufai announced this yesterday in a broadcast to the people of the state.
He said security agencies had been directed to ensure compliance across the state.
The governor warned that “the state government will not hesitate to impose a statewide curfew, should that become the only way to enforce compliance and make everyone understand the collective danger that we face.”

The governor also announced that relevant federal authorities had been contacted to stop the Abuja-Kaduna train service in order to limit the danger from contact on the train and influx from people who might have been exposed to infected persons.
Civil servants from Level 12 and below have also been directed to remain at home for the next 30 days, effective from today.

Workers providing essential services, especially in the health, security and emergency service sectors are, however, exempted from the directive.
El-Rufai said: “Kaduna State Government has decided to move from advice to actual enforcement of its restrictions on large gatherings, especially in churches and mosques.

“Security agencies have been directed to ensure compliance across the state.
“These agencies will also enforce compliance with the decision to close all schools, whether public or private, religious or secular, Islamiya or run by Christian missions.

“The emphasis on prevention is the only logical thing to do because our health system cannot cope with an outbreak of Covid-19.
“It is better to impose restrictions and save lives, than to be complacent and bury victims.”

Niger Imposes 12-hour Curfew

Niger State government has restricted the movements of people throughout the state in the daytime following Governor Abubakar Sani Bello’s announcement of 12-hour state-wide curfew.

The curfew, according to the governor, is from 8.00 a.m to 8.00 p.m, the period most business activities take place and this would become effective from tomorrow.

In a broadcast, Bello also said civil servants from level 1 – 12 should remain at home but those on essential services should move round to perform their duties.

The governor directed all traditional rulers to ensure Almajiri schools in their domains are closed immediately, while also banning all hawking and street begging.

He also ordered the closure of all public and private schools and institutions in Niger State from Monday.

Bello reduced the number of people that could gather at a given event from 50 to 20 and directed that all public offices, including Ministries, Departments, and Agencies should provide hand washing items at the entrance of their facilities.

Six FCT Area Councils Shut down

Also, the FCT Administration has directed the closure of all the six Area Council secretariats in the FCT indefinitely as a precaution to the spread of Covid-19.

The affected Area Councils are Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), Bwari, Kuje, Gwagwalada, Abaji, and Kwali.

In addition, all the workers in the affected secretariat have been ordered to stay at home.

The Chairman of the FCT Association of Local Governments Nigeria (ALGON), Mr. Mustapha Danze, conveyed this decision yesterday when he addressed the media at AMAC secretariat on behalf of other council chairmen.

Danze, who is the Chairman of the Gwagwalada Area Council, said all the six council secretariats would remain closed pending when further directives would be issued.

Bauchi Gov in Self–isolation

Bauchi State Governor, Senator Bala Mohammed, went into self-isolation yesterday after having contact with former vice president Atiku Abubakar’s son, Mohammed, who tested positive for the virus.

According to a statement by the governor’s Senior Special Assistant on Media, Mr. Mukhtar Gidado, Mohammed went into self-isolation following “the report from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) that the son of the former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, had tested positive for the COVID-19 upon his return from an international trip through Lagos.”

The statement said the governor, who recently returned from an official trip to Lagos, met with the Atiku’s son on an Aero Contractors flight where they shook hands and exchanged pleasantries.

“The governor did not exhibit any symptom of the disease, but based on the recommendation of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, he will remain in isolation in order to avoid the risk of spreading the disease.”

The statement added that the blood sample of the governor had been taken for clinical test and for the period of the test, the governor and his entourage would remain in isolation.

Osun Grants Civil Servants Two-week Leave

Osun State Government yesterday told its junior and middle-level civil servants to proceed on two-week leave effective from today as part of measures to contain the spread of the Coronavirus.

In a statement signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Prince Wole Oyebamiji, the precautionary measure was taken to forestall any possible outbreak of Covid-19 anywhere in the state.

He stated: “All officers from Grade Level 1 – 12 in all services of the state should proceed on two weeks leave beginning from Tuesday (March 24).

“All officers on essential services in health and medical facilities, environmental sanitation, fire services, water corporation, and all other essential services, are, however, to report for duty as usual.”

Aisha Buhari Advocates Total Lockdown

In a related development, the First Lady, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, yesterday called for a total lockdown across the country in a bid to fight COVID-19.

Aisha, who made the call on her Twitter handle, @aishambbuhari, said as much as governors’ decision to shut schools was commendable, it would be counter-productive with parents of schoolchildren going to work.

According to her, keeping children away from school while exposing their parents to contacts with people would make no difference as the exposed parents would return to meet their children at home.

She added that only a total lockdown and sit-at-home declaration could avoid further spread of the disease.

“It is commendable that state governors have closed down schools; however, this could be counterproductive if parents are still going to work. We should not isolate students and expose their parents.

APC, PDP Shut down Secretariats

The All Progressives Congress (APC) has shut down its national secretariat in Abuja for two weeks.

The National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has also directed a partial shutdown and skeletal activities at its national secretariat in Abuja from today.

The National Chairman of APC, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, while addressing the staff yesterday in Abuja, said if the situation did not improve, the shutdown might be extended.

Oshiomhole noted that the decision to shut down the party secretariat was a result of the conversation held by National Working Committee (NWC) members.

Also, a statement by the National Publicity Secretary of PDP, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, said the party was already adopting pre-emptive health safety measures to safeguard lives in all its offices nationwide.