By KATO P. LADAN, Kaduna
This statement was expressed during a statewide broadcast by Dr. Hadiza Sabuwa Balarabe, Deputy Governor of Kaduna State on the update of the activities of of Kaduna State COVID-19 Task-force on Friday, April 3, 2020.
“I find it necessary to address you yet again, on the greatest Public Health challenge of the 21st century.
“The Coronavirus pandemic apart from being a health issue has brought on significant socio-economic challenges, with great impact on livelihoods of individuals, communities and countries at large.
“Given the several dimensions the pandemic has taken, State and federal Governments across the world have been instituting extraordinary measures to contain the scourge. On 26th March, 2020, I made the 2nd state broadcast but 3rd within a week, where Coronavirus was declared a dangerous infectious disease, within the context of the Quarantine Act.
“Consequently, in exercise of the powers vested in the Governor by the 1999 Constitution(as amended), Sections 2 and 8 of the Quarantine Act of 1926 (Q2, Law of Federation of Nigeria 2004) as well as Kaduna State Public Health Law of 1917, all residents were quarantined on 26th March, 2020. Subsequently, everyone was made to remain at home and all offices, event centres, markets and shops, including worship centres, were closed.
“However, after about six days of this stay-at-home order, the Government relaxed the curfew, to enable people re-stock on food and other sundry supplies, last Wednesday 1st to Thursday 2nd April 2020.
“Similarly, a two-day window will be opened every week, Tuesday and Wednesday, to enable residents replenish their food supplies at this trying period.
“Fellow citizens of Kaduna State, the quarantine continues today and this order must be strictly adhered to in the interest of Public Health and Safety. Before the review, the Quarantine order was variously breached in several respects.
“Although most places of worship remained closed, some clerics defied the law by insisting on holding congregational prayers.
The clerics have been duly arrested, arraigned before the court, for onward prosecution.
“Similarly, some markets were partially opened and commercial activities took place therein.
Largely, commuting in commercial transport was absent but private vehicle owners plied our major roads during the lockdown. Openly, motorcyclists were not observing social distancing as some of them conveyed passengers along our major road arteries.
“On the outskirts and inner cities, it was business as usual as residents carried out their daily routines in defiance to the Quarantine Order , believing falsely that COVID-19 is a ‘’rich man’s disease.
“I want to emphasize here that Covid-19 is no respecter of persons- it can affect anyone- the rich, the poor, men, women, Christians as well as Muslims. We have reviewed the situation with security agencies to ramp up enforcement of the restriction of movement in the interest of the safety of everyone.
“My good people of Kaduna State, the Quarantine order continue to be enforced and this time around, anyone who runs afoul of the law, will be dealt with irrespective of his or her status.
As you all know, there are just seven testing centres in the entire country, with the one at the Federal Capital Territory(FCT) serving the entire north.
“However, the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has assured us that Kaduna will soon have a testing centre.
“Last week, the Commissioner for Health and her counterparts from other states of the federation, met with NCDC officials, where that commitment was again emphasized.
“In addition, the Commissioners were given further guidelines and techniques for reducing the spread of COVID-19, which we are already implementing.
“As an interim measure, Kaduna State Government is in talks with the Ahmadu Bello University(ABU) Zaria for use of the PCR machine at the African Center for Excellence for NTDs.
When talks are finalized, the general public will be informed accordingly. Similarly, Government has identified a location that will be used as an isolation centre for asymptomatic people.
“The States Facility Management Agency has been mandated to quickly renovate and make the identified location conducive and purpose-specific for these categories of individuals.
“However, this is a stop-gap arrangement, pending when a permanent structure is built. To this end, Government will be approaching private donors to support this project so that we can scale up our response to this pandemic.
“Significantly, Government has bought palliatives in the form of food items and other commodities, to be distributed to the vulnerable members of the society.
“Right now, the palliatives have have been sent to some identified local governments in the first instance, for onward distribution to clusters and households.
“In fact, households will start receiving these palliatives immediately.
“Donations have been trickling in from well meaning individuals, corporate organizations and Non Governmental Organizations.
“In addition, the Commissioner for Local Government will fashion out ways and means to enable solvent Area Councils to donate their widow’s mite.
“At this point I want to extent sincere appreciations to those who have contributed to this cause, we believe that together we can do more.
“Fellow citizens of Kaduna State, we are living in tough times, requiring us to not only be our brothers’ keepers but to also be cheerful givers, especially to the less privileged amongst us.
“A little kindness goes a long way at all times, but more so in these times.
“Remember to observe respiratory hygiene, endeavour to wash your hands regularly with soap and running water, continue maintaining social distancing, please stay safe, stay home and stay alive.”