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Anambra State Government Takes Critical Steps To Contain COVID-19

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… Directs civil servants to proceed on 14 day leave

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By Ndu Chris Nwannah, ATM Guest Writer

Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State has announced new measures aimed at controlling the spread of the COVID-19 in the area. Since the outbreak of the virus in Wuhan, China, its ripple has been felt in numerous countries of the world, including Nigeria. Hundreds of thousands have contracted the virus, which had also resulted in the deaths of thousands of people across the continents of the globe.

The worst hit nations are China, Italy, Spain, USA, Germany, Netherlands, France, UK among others. Coronavirus has brought with it huge economic challenges with the shutting down of businesses, borders, citizen movements, leading to complete lockdown in many nations. International flights have been put on hold as countries announced measures to reduce importation of new cases into their territories.

Nigeria was one of the countries that recently announced the closure of its international airports to forestall movement of people from the hard hit nations into the country. Federal institutions had recently been directed by the National Universities Commission to close offices for one to help mitigate the spread of the virus.

At a media briefing in Awka on Monday 23 March 2020, Governor Willie Obiano directed all civil servants in the state to proceed on a 14 day work-from-home leave starting from Tuesday March 24, 2020. He said the directive excludes health workers and others on essential service.

“Civil servants in the state are hereby directed to proceed on a 14-day work-from-home with effect from Tuesday, March 24, 2020. However, any civil servant may be called upon at any given time to handle an urgent assignment as the case arises. This directive excludes all staff of Anambra State Ministry of Health workers and officers on essential duty.”

The Governor further announced the suspension of public gatherings having more than 30 guests indefinitely.

“All public gatherings are hereby suspended in Anambra State till further notice with effect from today, March 23, 2020. This includes traditional marriage ceremonies, community festivals, ofala festivals, masquerade festivals, Igbankwu nwanyi, funeral ceremonies, baby christening, new yam festivals, title-taking ceremonies and any meeting of more than 30 participants. Traditional rulers and President General of Communities must ensure full compliance or be held responsible.”

Academic institutions were also affected, as Governor Obiano noted that, “all nursery, primary, secondary, vocational and tertiary schools are hereby closed with immediate effect. All academic and extra-curricular activities are hereby suspended.”

The transport sector was also affected in the new measures as all operators were asked to maintain effective manifest system.

“All public transport operators are directed to submit the manifest of all passengers coming into Anambra State to the appropriate authorities with their names, phone numbers, residential addresses and final destination.”

“The general public is mandated to maintain a habit of frequent hand-washing with soap and water as well as use alcohol based hand sanitizers.

“No Keke or tricycle rider should carry more than two passengers at a time.

“Drivers of shuttle buses must not carry more than 3 passengers at a time.

“Drivers of township and mini buses must not carry more than 5 passengers at a time.”

He urged citizens to only visit markets to purchase essential items. The Governor further announced the closure of all night clubs till further notice. The Governor said that “people should endeavor to sit at home.”

The Governor also stipulated that “operators of bars and restaurants should not admit more than 30 customers at a time and must adhere strictly to the basic standards of social distancing. They must also provide hand-washing points and hand sanitizers for their customers. Any violation will attract immediate closure of the premises.”

He directed “all persons returning to Anambra State from all countries of the world and states that have Covid-19 cases to go into self-isolation for 14 days and report.”

In addition, Governor Obiano said that “Security Agencies have been directed to ensure full compliance” with all the directives.

Governor Obiano also constituted an Action Committee on Covid-19 headed by himself to ensure the effective plans to contain the situation. The members of the committee, as announced by the Governor are: Dr. Vincent Okpala, Commissioner for Health, Mr. C Don Adinub, Dr Simeon Onyemaechi, Professor Igwegbe Anthony, Professor Oby Emelummadu, Dr. Simon Ushie, Dr. Basil Nwankwo, Dr. Emmanuel Azuike, Dr. Ifeoma Njelita, Dr. Uche Onyejimbe, Dr. Chijioke Obagha and Professor Maurice Iwu.

Others are Dr. Joe Akabuike, Dr. Ifeanyi Okoye, Dr. Ernest Ifebi, Dr. Chioma Ezenyimulu, Dr. Onyeka Ibezim, Chidi Kanu, Rt. Hon Uche Okafor, Speaker Anambra State House of Assembly, Professor Solo Chukwulobelu, Chief Primus Odili, Sir Uzu Okagbue and  Chinedu Aniagboso.

He said “all calls related to suspected Covid-19 should be routed to Anambra Public Health Emergency Operation Center on 08030953771 and 08117567363,” and assure that “we are determined to do our best to preserve life and restore normalcy within the shortest possible time.”

For the most part, the new measures provide more stringent guidance than those earlier announced by the governor on March 19th, suggesting ongoing recalibration of the state’s public guidance.

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