Paul Osuyi, Asaba
A cross section of residents in Asaba, Delta State capital on Tuesday hailed the State Government for not extending the total lockdown further after 28 days of observing the sit-at-home order amidst growing hunger.
The residents, most of whom were artisans who lived on daily income, said their existence was under serious threat during the lockdown, pledging to keep to the rules of social distancing, regular hand wash with soap and water or alcohol based sanitiser, and wearing of face mask during public interactions as they go about their lawful duties.
One of the respondents, Henry Okonta said the people were being starved during the lockdown, adding that the latest development from government was a huge relief.
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa had in a state broadcast earlier in the day, partially lifted movement restrictions from 6.00am to 7.00pm, but retained the dusk to dawn curfew.
Lifting the ban on weddings and burials, Okowa said such social events must be conducted with limited number of persons who must put on face masks, and in strict compliance with social distance order.
He said airports will remain closed but that transport services facilitated by mini buses and tricycles within the state, must be done with limited number of passengers.
The governor directed civil servants on Grade Level 12 and above to resume work on Thursday, April 30, 2020, adding that junior staff on essential/emergency duties were expected to continue to work.
However, Okowa said all public and private schools, crusades, conferences, sporting activities, gathering of people in convention/event centres, sports fields, public/open spaces, entertainment events as well as recreational and cultural/communal activities remain banned until 31st May 2020.
“As we gradually relax the restriction of movement, I must caution that it is not yet uhuru; life as we have known it is still a long way off.
“We must therefore brace ourselves up to adjust to the new normal in all our personal, official and business dealings going forward.
“As an administration, we remain irrevocably committed to doing everything necessary to protect the lives and property of citizens in the state, in addition to providing a safe and secure environment for them to pursue their dreams of success and happiness,” he assured.
The governor insisted that it was now compulsory for all residents to use face masks in public places, reiterating that security agencies have been advised to ensure strict compliance with the new directives.
It would be recalled that Delta recorded its index case of COVID-19 on April 7, and since then, five additional patients tested positive with one death among the six cases so far recorded.
Okowa, in his broadcast, expressed satisfaction that the 28-day lockdown broke the chain of transmission while also providing the leeway for tracing, identifying, isolating and testing contacts of infected persons.