Lagos, Edo, Osun shut markets

THREE states – Lagos, Edo and Osun – adopted more measures yesterday to further reduce public gatherings as efforts continue to stem the spread of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19). They shut markets.

Announcing further measures to prevent COVID-19 spread in Lagos, Nigeria’s industrial hub, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu ordered the closure of all markets and stores.

The closure, which takes effect tomorrow, will last for seven days.

Sanwo-Olu gave the order while giving update on the Covid-19 situation in the State to state House correspondents at the Lagos House, Marina, Lagos.

He, however, exempted some markets, especially those selling food items, water, drugs, medical equipment and other related life-saving items, from the closure.

Noting that since his last address on March 22, there has been an increase in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases nationwide with Lagos accounting for 29 cases, the governor said: “Here in Lagos, we have seen a significant jump in our numbers from 19 as at the last time I addressed you on Sunday, to 29 as at today’s (yesterday) briefing.

“This shows that our numbers are increasing as predicted, but we are also proactively and promptly tracking, isolating and managing the suspected cases; as well as the confirmed ones at the Infectious Diseases Hospital in Yaba.

“I am pleased to note that all our confirmed cases, bar the ones that have since been discharged, are doing well and are all in stable condition.

“We are identifying other isolation centers across our five divisional zones of Ikeja; Badagry; Ikorodu; Lagos Island and Epe to ensure that we have a seamless and coordinated approach towards the quick identification and isolation of suspected cases without overwhelming the mainland Infectious Diseases Hospital in Yaba.”

He renewed his call on the organised private sector (OPS) to allow as many workers as possible to work from home, saying, banks and other financial institutions are encouraged to prioritise online channels for their services to the public; with only essential and key senior staff being in the office during these times.

Reeling out the fresh measures, Sanwo-Olu said:

“The Chief Judge of Lagos State has been directed to ensure that all Magistrate and High Courts in Lagos State close immediately to the public and suspend all court sittings; and much as is possible, essential services should be transacted electronically.

“ All public parks, including those in private and residential estates, swimming pools, gyms, beauty salons, and all such public places are expected to shut down at this time, until further notice.”

He charged all those that fall into the listed categories to observe necessary precautionary measures of social distancing.

Sanwo-Olu added: “I urge that all travel to and from Lagos, whether by air or by road, be avoided at this time. The Federal Government has already advised residents of Lagos and Abuja to stay put where they are, and I would like to reiterate this in the strongest terms possible.

 

“As much as possible let us all refrain from inter-state traveling of any kind, until the worst of the crisis is behind us.

“As already stated, and I reiterate again, let us refrain from gatherings or congregations of any kind at all at this time; and where we must absolutely gather, the number of persons in the gathering must not exceed 50 persons.

“Now is not the time to be meeting friends, planning playdates, planning weddings or planning any other social event.  Stay home and stay away from gatherings as much as you can help it!

“Anyone caught flouting any of the above directives as well as the previously issued directives will be dealt with to the fullest extent of the law.”

He said law enforcement agencies have been empowered to deal with recalcitrant offenders.

“We will not relent in ensuring strict compliance with our directives.”

Announcing the closure of markets in Edo State, Governor Godwin Obaseki said only food vendors, dug sellers and other vital commodities will be allowed to operate.

Obaseki also reduced the number of people allowed in any public gathering in the state from 50 to 20. He spoke at the Government House in Benin during the inauguration of members of the State COVID-19 Response Committee.

Stressing that all hands must be on deck to tackle the spread of the pandemic, Obaseki said: “Edo government is working with the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital (ISTH) for mass production of hand sanitisers in drums that will be distributed to local government areas, palaces, markets and other government agencies for use in public places.”

Besides, the governor directed transport unions to intensify sensitisation among members on the need to implement the social distancing policy by reducing the number of passengers in their vehicles.

He tasked security agencies in Edo state on the enforcement of the new measures, stressing that his administration would partner with the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) to intensify public health services.

He urged retired health workers to be on standby, hinting that they might be needed to boost services.

On reports of indiscriminate consumption of Chloroquine in Edo, Obaseki assured that the Health ministry, Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) have been directed to swing into action and regulate the sale of medicines, especially Chloroquine.

In Osogbo, the Osun State government, through the Health Commissioner, Dr. Rafiu Isamotu announced an indefinite suspension on weekly markets to curb COVID-19 spread.

In a statement, the governor’s Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Ismail Omipidan, noted that the government said only daily markets will be allowed to operate because they attract low patronage.

The commissioner stated that the closure was necessary due to the fact that Osun has boundaries with some states that have confirmed COVID-19 cases.

The commissioner urged market women to support government’s effort in containing the spread of the disease by creating hand washing points and providing sanitisers for those patronising them.

Also yesterday, the governments in Rivers and Ondo states announced similar measures.

Ordering the immediate closure of all markets, malls and shops across the state, Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, said the directive will be in force for a week.

But the sale of life-saving and sustaining items like food, water and medicals were exempted from the directive.

Akeredolu reiterates that the suspension on political gatherings and meetings remained in force.

“In this regard, any form of open campaign for the forthcoming local government election in the state should be discontinued for the meantime,” a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Ojo Oyewamide, said.