From John Adams, Minna, Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri, David Onwuchekwa, Nnewi and Noah Ebije, Kaduna
Lockdown is imminent in Niger State as COVID-19 pandemic continued to take its toll leading to the death of former Head of Service (HoS) while a number of prominent residents have tested positive for the disease.
Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Bawa Wuse and the Clerk, Mohammed Kagara have gone into isolation after testing positive.
The member representing Bida 2, Haruna Alhaji Baba confirmed the development, saying two weeks ago, the member representing Gurara, Binta Mamman tested positive, which necessitated the legislators and staff of the Assembly to undergo testing.
All the lawmakers and principal staff have gone into quarantine, a development that has sent fears into civil servants and those from the Assembly in particular.
Worried by the spike, government has directed all workers to stay home as from today while all schools were shut last Friday.
Similarly, Imo Governor, Hope Uzodinma, has ordered the indefinite closure of government secretariat and offices from today to stem the second wave of the pandemic in the state.
In a broadcast, yesterday, in which he outlined dangers of the fresh spike of the pandemic, the governor directed all government workers except permanent secretaries and political appointees to remain at home till further notice.
Governor Uzodimma has also made the wearing of face masks compulsory for every residents in the state while mobile courts have been set up to prosecute anyone found without a face mask.
The governor has also directed that no gathering during the Yuletide should have more than 100 persons and they must observe the COVID-19 protocols.
Markets and public places, he said, must also put in place hand washing facilities, sanitizers and other COVID-19 pandemic safety measures as recommended by the Nigeria Centre for Diseases Control (NCDC).
According to the governor: “The dreaded Coronavirus pandemic, otherwise known as COVID-19 is back in town at full speed.
“While I truly wish all of us a happy Christmas celebration in advance, I am duty-bound to ensure that this should not be the last Christmas any of us will celebrate with his loved ones. This may sound scary but it is a grim possibility if we do not take urgent protective steps to stop Coronavirus on its tracks.
“There is a great global resurgence of the dreaded virus. With the reopening of international flights, movement of people across the globe is back on full stream. This has aided further spread of the virus.
“It is usual that at this Christmas season, our relations and friends from across the world and Nigeria will be coming home. Expectedly, there is bound to be a great human traffic surge in Imo State. This of course, comes with its full implications for the spread of COVID-19.
“Already, the effect of this frightful global resurgence and spike in COVID-19 infections is manifest in the country and Imo State.
“Recent PCR-Based tests carried out in the state in accordance with the guidelines of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) reveal a frightful upward surge in the confirmed cases curve. As of last week, no less than 32 persons were confirmed positive with COVID -19.”
In a related development, Kaduna government has directed all civil servants below Grade Level 14 to work from home subject to directives or summons by their supervisors who may require their presence in the office.
In a statement issued by the Special Adviser on Media and Communication, Mr Muyiwa Adekeye, yesterday, the government said the Head of Service will issue service-wide updates as required.
Adekeye explained that Governor Nasir El-Rufai has signed and authorised new regulations to contain the spread of COVID-19 in Kaduna State with effect from today.
“It is mandatory to wear facemasks outside the house. Organisations and individuals that allow people into their premises have the responsibility to enforce the ‘no mask, no entry mandate.’ Facemasks should be worn to cover both the nose and mouth.’’
The statement which said large gatherings are prohibited also mandated businesses to provide thermometers for temperature checks, and sanitisers or hand-washing equipment and physical distancing measures within all facilities.
“Places of worship must enforce facemasks, provide sanitisers and ensure physical distancing. The number of worshippers will be capped.”