By Mumini AbdulKareem
The Kwara State Government on Tuesday has reversed its decision to allow for opening of markets and regulated movement at certain hours by ordering a total lockdown in the state.
This is just as confirmed cases of covid-19 in the state rose to four after the receipt of results of the last round of tests.
The government in its earlier pronouncement on the pandemic had allowed for opening of markets three days a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to allow residents restock their food and other essentials in other to cushion the effect of the covid-19 pandemic.
The decision however came under heavy criticism after pictures surfaced on social media of overcrowded markets exposing thousands to possible contraction of the virus.
But on Tuesday, the position of government was reviewed when the Deputy Governor and Chairman of the Technical Committee on Covid-19 Kayode Alabi briefed newsmen on its latest decision.
According to Alabi , the review means that commercial and private vehicles are now barred from operating, except trucks and trailers conveying food stuffs, medicines and other essential services earlier exempted by the government in its effort to contain COVID-19.
The Deputy Governor said marketers may now set up shops in schools and open spaces in their neighbourhood between 8 am and 12pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. He however said all congregational prayers remain banned as before.
His words: “Kwara now has four cases of COVID-19. They are two males and two females. As you may be aware, we have carried out a total of 42 tests, 29 of which were negative. We are waiting for nine results which may come in possibly later this evening. As I said earlier, we have four confirmed cases. Three of them show no symptoms. Only one is showing some symptoms but is stable. Of these four cases, one is a contact of the index case. The other was a patient at the UITH but now at the state’s isolation centre. There is a risk of community transmission which must be curtailed. The good news is that our rapid response team is in firm control of the situation — thanks to the support of the NCDC team led by own son Dr Shuaib Belgore and the COVID-19 Committee.
“Last week, the Kwara State Technical Committee announced some measures to enable people go out to get food and other essentials on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. In handing down these measures, the government called for respect for social distancing and other safety protocols.
“We experimented with the measure on Monday and observations were made. Accordingly, the committee is making the following adjustments:
· Government is hereby restoring full-scale lockdown across the state for the rest of the 14 days earlier declared
· Movement of all vehicles are banned except commercial vehicles carrying food, medications, goods and services. Trucks and trailers are to be allowed to pass through especially those coming from Lagos to the North. Trucks carrying raw materials and finished products are to be exempted.
· Marketers may use neighbourhood schools and open spaces to set up shops to meet the demands for food in the community while maintaining social distancing and all restrictions on social gatherings;
· Neighbourhood shops may also open between 8am -12pm Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays.
· All previously announced restrictions on social and religious gatherings remain in force. For record, congregational prayers remain banned.
· Previous exemptions (such as for farmers, health workers, hospitals, pharmaceuticals, journalists, government contractors, banks, petrol stations) remain valid.
· For emphasis, except as stated above, all vehicular movements are banned including on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays that markets are to open. People are encouraged to patronise markets in their neighbourhood.
“We continue to appreciate our health workers for their priceless contributions to this effort. We urge the people of Kwara State to remain patient. We call for increased personal hygiene. This is the time for everyone to take responsibility for our individual and collective health.”
By Mumini AbdulKareem