By Vincent Ujumadu, Awka
Governor Willie Obiano has announced the closure of 63 major markets in the state as part of measures to ensure that people remained in their homes during the coronavirus lockdown.
The state had earlier closed all schools and ordered civil servants to remain at home, while its borders with six states would be shut.
The commissioner for information and public enlightenment, Mr Son Adinuba who said the closure would take effect from Monday, March 31, 2020, explained that the exceptions were foodstuff and medicine markets.
According to him, the new order followed a series of consultations with various stakeholders in the markets across the state.
He said: “During the two-week closure, the people affected by the order are enjoined to stay indoors and maintain a high level of hygiene.
“They are also advised to maintain social distance by keeping away from persons by six feet, in addition to washing their hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and declining to hug or shake hands with any person.
“The Anambra State Taskforce on the Coronavirus, which comprises, among others, the Nigeria Police Force, Anambra Vigilante Group and other security and intelligence organizations, are directed to ensure strict compliance with the order closing down markets in the state.
“The closure is the last resort in the determination to promote the wellbeing and secure future of the people of Anambra State. The government deeply regrets the inconveniences which the order will cause.”
He, however, said the directive would be reviewed in two weeks’ time, adding that If any person contracted the virus it would show during the period of the market shutdown such that only people free of COVID-19 would be in the markets when they are reopened.
Meanwhile, the state has created three isolation centres located at Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu Teaching Hospital in Awka, Nnamdi Azikiwe Teaching Hospital in Nnewi and Onitsha General Hospital, as well as surge centres to take excess patients from the three hospitals.
The surge centres are at Umueri General Hospital in Anambra East Local Government Area, Ekwulobia General Hospital in Aguata Local Government Area, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu Teaching Hospital in Awka and the Auditorium of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Camp at Mbaukwu/Umuawulu in Awka South Local Government Area, which can accommodate 500 beds, while the entire camp can accommodate 3,000 beds.
He said the state government was working hard to get the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control to accredit the state teaching hospital as a centre for tests because its mega laboratory, where over 500 tests could be conducted simultaneously, meeting international standards.