By Ibrahim HassanWuyo
Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State has stated that the state government is counting on the cooperation of citizens in containing the surge in Covid-19 infections.
He said that a lockdown is not the immediate focus of the Kaduna State.
The governor, who made the appeal during a media chat with some broadcast-journalists in Hausa on Wednesday night, noted that the spike in infection is as a result of lack of adherence to Covid-19 preventive measures.
“We are calling on all our citizens to join us to fight Covid-19 and save lives without having a lockdown. We think there are lots of simpler things citizens and businesses can do that can help reduce the spread of the disease.’’
Malam El-Rufai said that the government expects voluntary compliance with Covid prevention protocols so that livelihoods can be pursued in safety.
‘’We are counting on the cooperation of our citizens, religious leaders, the business community, transporters and other stakeholders in a collective effort to stop Covid-19. We can do it by voluntary compliance,’’ he added.
El-Rufai also directed that as from Thursday, 17 December 2020, all residents of Kaduna state must wear facemasks when leaving their homes, adding that security agents will enforce compliance and mobile courts will try offenders.
The governor argued that mass compliance is preferable to a lockdown which will disrupt peoples means of livelihoods and inconvenience residents of the state.
He, however, warned that the government will impose a lockdown if it becomes necessary to save lives and prevent the collapse of the healthcare system.
How to prevent a lockdown — Deputy Gov
Deputy Governor of Kaduna state, Dr Hadiza Balarabe, explained measures that residents should take in order to check the rising spread of the disease and prevent a lockdown.
Dr Balarabe noted that facemasks must cover the mouth and nose as they should not be worn on the chin as most people do, adding that ‘’ large gatherings are henceforth prohibited.’’
Speaking during the interview, she said that ‘’businesses must provide thermometers for temperature checks, and sanitizers or handwashing equipment and physical distancing measures within all facilities.
‘’Places of worship must enforce facemasks, provide sanitisers and ensure physical distancing. The number of worshippers will be capped. Congregational worship should not exceed one hour.’’
According to the Deputy Governor, transport operators must reduce capacity to not more than two passengers per row and not more than 50% of capacity and passengers must all be masked up
Dr Balarabe, who is the Chair of the State Covid-19 Taskforce, also said that ‘’supermarkets and providers of personal services such as hair dressing and barbing salons can remain open, but service providers and customers must use facemasks and limit crowds.’’
The Deputy Governor who is also a medical doctor, further directed that ‘’hotels can remain open, but their restaurants and bars can offer only room service. Restaurants are restricted to takeaway services only.’’
‘’Event centres, night clubs, gymnasiums and bars and lounges are to close until further notice,’’ she added.
Covid-19 on the rise—Health Commissioner
The Commissioner of Health, Dr Amina Mohammed-Baloni said that there have been rising cases in the last three weeks in Kaduna state, with an average daily infection of 100.
According to the commissioner, one out of every three samples that were tested turns out to be Covid-19 positive, adding that the cases are even higher.
Dr Baloni revealed that the infection rates are higher in eight local governments, including Kaduna North and Kaduna South local government areas, Chikun, Igabi, Zaria, Sabon Gari, Jema’a, Lere and Soba local governments.
The commissioner further said that Kaduna North local government has the highest number of cases, adding that 47 people have so far died throughout the state, out of which two were health workers.
Dr Baloni revealed that Kaduna state now has eight testing centres located at Yusuf Dantsoho Memorial Hospital, Barau Dikko Teaching Hospital, Saminaka and Kafanchan General Hospitals, as well as Saye General Hospital, including additional centres in Zaria and Kaduna and Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital.
Dr Balonisaid that testing is free and samples are being collected in all General Hospitals at the local governments. She advised residents to get tested once they notice Covid-like symptoms.
The commissioner also debunked the insinuation that the recently held Kaduna Marathon was responsible for the rise in Covid-19 cases.
‘’All the foreign athletes that came for the event were tested prior to entering Nigeria as Federal Government protocols demand. They were tested in Kaduna and then tested in Lagos before departure.
‘’We had said prior to the event that it will be cancelled if the Covid-19 figures prior to the marathon surged. We did not have such a surge at the time,’’ she added.
Kaduna: All schools remain closed—Education Commissioner
The Commissioner of Education, Dr Shehu Usman Muhammad Makarfi has clarified that all schools in Kaduna state, irrespective of their ownership, have been closed so as to check the spread of Coronavirus.
Dr Makarfi who made the clarification at the media chat on Wednesday night, said that the closure is not limited to Kaduna state government-owned schools, adding that all schools located in the state are affected by the directive.
‘’Public and private schools, Islamiyya schools, state and federal government-owned tertiary schools, all institutions of learning in whatever name or guise are included in the directive,’’ he said.
The commissioner said that government took the decision to save the lives of pupils and students in the light of the second wave of Covid-19 infections, adding that ‘’learning is for the living.’’
According toDr Makarfi, the people who are blaming government for taking what they describe as ‘’drastic measures’’, will be the same people that will blame government for ‘’laxity’’ in the event of fatalities owing to the virus.
The commissioner revealed that ‘’some schools had recorded Covid infections among students and teachers. As the figures rose, we thought it was better to reduce one source of contact among people from different homes in the interest of everyone.’’
‘’As per resumption in January 2021, our decision will be guided by the advice of the Ministry of Health. School must be a safe place for learning, not an incubator of disease and ill-health,’’ he said.