The Edo State Government has said that its decision to impose partial lockdown in the state in the face of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic was the best option given its peculiar socio-economic dynamics and the need to sustain a post-COVID-19 economy. In a statement, Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Communication Strategy, Mr. Crusoe Osagie, said the state government based its decision on the recognition of the fact that the state’s economy is largely dominated by operators in the informal sector and that the impact of a total lockdown would be worse than that of the coronavirus. According to him, “We are aware of sinister plans by some unscrupulous elements to stir controversy over the state government’s decision to adopt a partial as against total lockdown. Their strategy is such that they would influence public opinion to force government to impose a total lockdown so as to advance their selfish interests to make the government unpopular. “However, we want to assure Edo people that our position is backed by reasoning as they are at the heart of all government’s policies at all times especially in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. Much as we are working assiduously to reduce the spread of the viral disease in the state, we would not do so by sacrificing our people’s economic wellbeing. “There is no denying that the informal sector constitutes a major block of the state’s economy. These people survive on daily sales or wages, it would be callous to deprive them of daily bread at this time with a total lockdown. Those behind the call for a total lockdown have refused to see the implicit adverse effects of such moves in other states in Nigeria and different countries across the world.” Noting that evidence from other states that have implemented total lockdown are unfavourable to the state’s current dynamics, he said, “We are not unaware of the issues that have arisen with the total lockdown in some states across the country. There have been civil unrests in some states leading to deaths. In fact, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), in its recent report, disclosed that 18 persons have been killed by security operatives in the course of enforcing the total lockdown. The figure is more than the total number of persons that have died from coronavirus. “Also, the total lockdown in the state has proven not to be effective in containing spread or shutting out the virus, as we have evidence where despite a lockdown, cases of the virus have been recorded in some states that took such measures while in others, a 100 percent increase in new cases has been recorded. “At the same time, the resurgence of crime in some states have also been trace to the total lockdown. Hoodlums have gone around terrorising people and robbing them of food and monies. It is obvious that, by its very far-reaching implications, a total lockdown is not advisable.”
… services to be scaled up across 18 LGAs
The Edo State Government has set up screening facilities in six Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) and four private hospitals in Benin City, as part of efforts to curtail the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the state.
The Edo State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Patrick Okundia, who disclosed this to journalists in Benin City, the Edo State capital, said modalities to scale up screening services across the 18 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in the state is being worked out.
The screening centres were set up in Aruogba, Oko, Ugbor, Oredo, New Benin and Ikpema PHCs, while the private hospitals include St. Philomena, Faith Mediplex, Bethel Faith and Safe Haven Hospitals.
According to commissioner, the government decided to embark on massive screening for coronavirus across the state in order to ensure effective containment efforts, noting that mobile target population-based screening will commence soon across the 18 LGA of the State.
He decried the low compliance with the sit-at-home and social distancing directive, urging residents to support the state government’s efforts aimed at curtailing the spread of the virus.
Okundia said, “The Edo State Government has taken serious steps to contain the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Edo currently boasts of four designated isolation centres, including the General Hospital, Auchi; Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital; University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) and the Stella Obansajo Hospital.
“Training of Healthcare workers across the 18 LGAs on COVID-19 response has been concluded and our laboratory capacity is being strengthened and training of laboratory personnel is ongoing by National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), World Health Organisation (WHO) and other Partners; 3 more PCR machines have been paid for by the State government and the delivery is being expected.”
He continued, “Screening facilities (questionnaire-based) have been set up in six PHC centers and 4 private health facilities in Oredo LGA, while scale up across the 18 LGA is being worked out. Also, mobile target population-based screening is to commence soon across the 18 LGA of the State.
“It is quite unfortunate that despite these efforts to curtail the spread, some members of the society have refused to comply with the government’s directives, aimed at keeping them healthy and safe.”
“The Edo State Government, once more, calls on all residents to stay at home and observe social distancing guidelines and other precautionary measures against the spread of the disease, including regular handwashing with soap under running water and the use alcohol-based hand sanitisers. If you must go out, do so wearing facemasks. Cover your mouth and nose properly when sneezing and/or coughing. Also do well to report anyone with oversea travel history,” he added.