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COVID-19 – With 81 confirmed cases, major Nigerian States of Enugu, Lagos, Kaduna, Rivers, others, lock down

As the total number of Nigerians with confirmed cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) is now 81., the Enugu State government has announced a total lockdown of the State effective Tuesday as it registered its first two confirmed cases of the virus.

Secretary to the State Government, Professor Simon Uchenna Ortuanya, said in a statement that with effect from 6pm on Tuesday, March 31, 2020, all land borders and inter-state transportation in the State will be closed “till further notice.”

With effect from the date and time, the State government says it will only allow movement of “those on medical emergency services.”

Located at the foot of the Udi Plateau, Enugu shares land borders with Abia State and Imo State to the South, Ebonyi State to the East, Benue State to the Northeast, Kogi State to the Northwest and Anambra State to the West. It is also the strategic entrance to the Nigeria Delta region and the Igbo heartland for majority of Nigerians living or going to the Northern part of the country.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has said in a Tweet that “11 new cases of #COVID19 have been reported in Nigeria: 8 in Lagos, 2 in Enugu & 1 in Edo State. As at 11:55pm 27th March, there are 81 confirmed cases of #COVID19 reported in Nigeria. 3 have been discharged with 1 death.”

The Enugu State Government also ordered the closure of all markets in the State, “no matter the size, till further notice, with effect from 6pm on Tuesday, the 31st day of March, 2020.”

The statement added that other categories exempted from the closure include “those dealing on food items, water, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment and other basic items of daily domestic need who must comply with the standard hygiene protocol as stipulated by the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC), including frequent hand washing with soap, use of sanitizer and social distancing.”

According to Prof. Ortuanya, “all Local Government Chairmen are hereby directed to ensure strict compliance with the closure of the markets within their respective local government councils, without prejudice to the exceptions above”.

While appealing for understanding from the residents and citizens of the state “at this difficult time as no sacrifice is too much to save the lives of our people”, the state government directed the security agencies and the State Medical Response Team to enforce all the directives as stated above.

Meanwhile, the Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, while signing into law the Emergency Coronavirus Pandemic Bill 2020 passed by the House of Assembly, says that a total lockdown of Nigeria’s commercial capital is imminent as the cases of coronavirus continue to increase.

Towards this, travelling in and out of Lagos would be restricted on Sunday, adding that all inter-State motor parks should shut down for two weeks.

According to the Governor, “we are moving in the direction of a total lockdown,” directing a dusk-to-dawn curfew in Lagos starting from Sunday to allow the State to carry out a comprehensive disinfection of the metropolis. I am hereby directing a statewide curfew from 8pm to 6am, starting from Sunday until further notice. This is to enable us to carry out comprehensive disinfection of the Lagos Metropolis. I am pleased to note that we have taken possession of over 200 disinfecting machines, and starting today, we will be disinfecting all major highways, bus stops, markets, parks, and other public areas.

“With effect from Sunday, we will be closing the domestic airport in Lagos, the General Aviation Terminal and the MM2. All movements in and out of Lagos through the two domestic terminals will, therefore, be suspended from Sunday for two weeks in the first instance. The only exceptions will be flights carrying essential supplies and those on emergency operations.”

However, the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Professor Akin Abayomi, announced that the State might witness 39,000 cases of COVID-19 in a worst-case scenario.

Urging residents to adhere to the social distancing rules to contain the spread of the disease, the Commissioner said: “Our mathematical modelling shows that the worst-case scenario is that we may see up to 39,000 cases in Lagos, but if everyone practises good social distancing, the figure will be limited to 13,000. If we add social distancing to active contact tracing, then we will be able to bend the curve further. The figures may seem alarming at this point, but this is just to emphasise to the Lagos community to follow the instructions of the incident commander to make sure that we practise social distancing.

“Looking at the same timeframe from the introduction of the index case, you can see that Lagos State is not seen anywhere near what Spain, Italy, and Iran are showing. So, at weeks two and three of our index case, we are flat and at week four, we have 37 cases; while at the same fourth week, Italy, Iran, and Spain had more than 20,000 cases.”

The Commissioner added that the State was tracing 3,000 contacts who might have had contact with some of the confirmed cases.

In Kaduna State, Northwest Nigeria, the government has imposed curfew, with the Deputy Governor, Dr Hadiza Balarabe, saying via a broadcast that “from midnight of Thursday, 26th March, 2020, all residents of Kaduna State must stay at home. No offices, businesses of any sort or places of worship are allowed to open.”

Clarifying that the only category of persons exempted were essential services’ workers such as health, fire service and security personnel, she warned that the curfew would be strictly enforced by the security agencies, adding that “they have clear directives for the immediate arrest and prosecution of any person that violates these measures. Churches and mosques will be shut, there will no congregational prayers or services either within these places of worship or outdoors.

“Wedding events and all social gatherings are strictly prohibited while these emergency measures remain in place. Any place of worship, event centre or place that hosts social gatherings will be in violation of its term of grant and therefore risks forfeiting its title and having the site of the offence removed. We recognise that Kaduna State is a transport hub. Therefore, transit through Kaduna will be allowed, provided that such vehicles ply only the Western bye-pass.”

She noted that the lockdown became necessary because the State did not have the resources and the health facilities to cope with the pandemic should it reach Kaduna State.

In addition, Kogi State has announced the closure of its borders while the FCT has been under lockdown for some days now.

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, had announced in a broadcast that air, sea and land routes into the State will be closed to traffic, beginning 6am, Thursday, March 26, 2020.

Apart from the closure of the Port Harcourt International airport and the sea ports, the government has also banned all vehicular movements in an out of the State. In addition, the ban also affects all forms of open worship including crusades and vigils, public burials and weddings, and the close down of all public parks, night clubs and Cinemas to close down.

Kogi, a North-Central State which shares boundaries with 10 other States in the country has also shut all entry points as a measure to prevent the entry of the COVID-19 epidemic into the State.

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