Amid the dreaded second wave and rising spread of COVID-19 in the country, the Federal Capital Territory Administration and the governments of Lagos and Ebonyi states have banned some large gatherings in their respective domains.
While Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State banned concerts, carnivals, street parties and nightclubs, Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State and the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mohammed Bello, imposed some restrictions and issued fresh safety protocols in their respective areas.
This, they said, was to curb the rising spread of the virus, which rose to 77,013 on Friday. The number of deaths also rose from 1,201 to 1,212.
Sanwo-Olu, who has contracted the virus and is undergoing treatment, said in a statement on Friday that it was wrong and dangerous for the public to think the worst as regard the virus was over. He also reinstated the 12am to 4am curfew imposed by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on the state.
The governor lamented that credible reports indicated that the entertainment industry was planning large gatherings, concerts, street parties and carnivals, in the spirit of the Yuletide while night clubs have also reopened in reckless disregard for the existing guidelines. He said event centres were also operating with huge gatherings without any regard for public health and safety guidelines.
In the statement, titled, ‘We cannot afford to relax the battle against COVID-19’, the governor described as overwhelming the non-compliance of places of worship with the guidelines in both their regular and special gatherings organised to commemorate the season.
The governor added, “All public servants from Grade Level 14 and below, except emergency workers and first responders, are to work from home as from Monday, December 21 for the next 14 days in the first instance.
“All schools must shut down with immediate effect, and until further notice. Concerts, carnivals and street parties are banned in Lagos State until further notice.
“Nightclubs have not been allowed to open yet. All nightclubs in Lagos must immediately shut down, until further notice. The midnight 12 am to 4am curfew imposed by the Federal Government remains in place. The protocol of ‘No Mask No Entry’ must be enforced by all public places: offices, businesses, markets, shops and so on.”
He added that all places of worship, including churches and mosques, must ensure that no gathering exceeds two hours, and that no gathering exceeds 50 per cent of the maximum capacity of the venue.
Sanwo-Olu, who is the COVID-19 Incident Commander in Lagos State, added that all event planners must obtain prior clearance from the Lagos State Safety Commission for all events and ensure compliance with safety protocols, and that people should adhere to the two-metre distancing rule and the use of face mask at all times in public, among other guidelines. He directed security agencies to ensure full compliance with the safety protocols.
He added, “Security agents have been mandated to ensure full enforcement, without exception. No one will be deemed to be above the law. Any and all breaches of these regulations and public health protocols will lead to immediate closure as well as attract heavy fines and any other sanctions and penalties deemed fit, in line with the Lagos State Infectious Diseases Control Regulation 2020.”
While warning unaccredited private hospitals against treating COVID-19 patients, the governor vowed that private test centres issuing fake results would be prosecuted without hesitation. He pointed out that 10 out of every 100 tests now come out positive, noting that out of the 197,000 tests carried out so far in the state, 26,000 tested positive and 226 died.
Sanwo-Olu added, “This virus does not discriminate. We must take responsibility and not treat this pandemic with levity. This second wave calls for a full re-awakening of caution and precaution.”
In Ebonyi State, the governor directed that church services be held for only two hours across the state, even as he called on Ebonyi citizens, including corporate organisations and leadership of motor parks, to observe all the COVID-19 protocols.
He said, “The second wave is already with us. We have not started experiencing it in the South-East. We must go back and observe the protocols. Services should not last more than two hours. Four hundred and fifty persons should be tested in each LGA. I have suspended large gatherings in Ebonyi.
“The usual Night of Praise will be shifted to January. We have decided to shift our Thanksgiving Service to the Ecumenical Centre. You must go with face masks. All treatment centres should be reactivated.”
Umahi also commended governors in the South-East for enforcing the COVID-19 protocols.
Meanwhile, the governor also described as laughable the setting up of a security outfit within the South-East region by the leader of the proscribed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra Nnamdi Kanu.
Speaking at the Government House in Abakaliki while briefing journalists on the recent developments in the country, Umahi said the South-East remained the safest region in the country.
Umahi said, “Our region remains the safest. When our brother said he had set up a security outfit; it was laughable. It is the duty of the governors to protect the lives of our citizens. IPOB’s claim that it has established a security outfit in the South-East is laughable. Anybody doing anything to the contrary should be ignored. Our youths should be warned against being used as agents of destruction.”
Similarly, the Federal Capital Territory Administration has issued fresh COVID-19 guidelines regulating congregations, workplaces and market places to minimise further spread of the virus in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
Announcing the guidelines in Abuja on Friday, the FCT Minister, Muhammad Bello, stated that enforcement teams would be out on the streets to ensure compliance, adding that the FCTA would work closely with the judiciary through the Mobile Courts under existing laws.
He said COVID-19 figures over the last three weeks in FCT had been unacceptably high and there was an urgent need to contain it as much and as fast as possible.
The minister, therefore, directed that the proper use of face masks and temperature checks on all staff members, visitors and customers entering office and business premises in the FCT had become mandatory.
He added, “No mask, no entry, no service. All office and business premises must have a hand-wash station with running water and soap or hand sanitiser. Employees who are feeling unwell or have COVID-19 symptoms should notify their supervisors immediately or stay at home and seek medical attention to confirm diagnosis by doing a COVID-19-test.
He called for total compliance with all safety guidelines, adding that the holiday season demands that we also place special emphasis on market places, places of worship and entertainment as well as recreational centres which traditionally attract large gatherings during this period.
Tambuwal in isolation, Abiodun, Umahi decry rising infections
Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State said he had gone into self isolation upon medical advice, having come in close contact with some persons who tested positive for the virus.
In a statement on Friday, Tambuwal said, “Following my official trips in the past few days, during which I was in close contact with some personalities, some of whom have tested positive to COVID-19, I have been medically advised to go into self-isolation.
“As a result, I will withdraw from official and physical engagements for the period prescribed by the COVID-19 protocols, with effect from Friday, December 18, 2020. In my absence, the deputy governor, Mr Manir Muhammad Dan’Iya, will carry out all official functions as laid down in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
He promised to avail the public of the outcome of the testing procedure by the state task force on the virus, the National Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organisation.
“Meanwhile, I want to use this medium to urge the good people of our state to adhere and observe all the protocols laid down by the relevant health bodies in the prevention and management of COVID-19,” he added.
Akwa Ibom cancels all state events
In Akwa Ibom State, the state government on Friday announced the cancellation of all state government events requiring large crowds as the new wave of COVID-19 revealed 48 new cases. It also discouraged large meetings, as it vowed to ensure strict enforcement of the safety guidelines and protocols in all parts of the state.
The Secretary to the state government and chairman COVID-19 management committee in the state, Dr Emmanuel Ekuwem, at a media briefing in Uyo on Friday, cautioned residents of the state to avoid acts that could prompt a second lockdown.
In the briefing themed, ‘Second wave of COVID-19: Need for strict compliance’, Ekuwem said, “Large political meetings are discouraged until the current spike of COVID-19 infections is reduced. Religious leaders must adhere strictly to the guidelines and protocols for programmes as developed by the Christian Association of Nigeria and submitted to the government.”
He warned that the use of face masks, temperature checks, adherence to social distancing, regular hand washing and regular use of sanitisers in public places were compulsory, adding, “All COVID-19 guidelines and protocols must be strictly adhered to by everyone.”
In Ogun State, Governor Dapo Abiodun has pleaded with Nigerians to guard against acts that could trigger the second wave of the virus in the state.
The governor, who made the call at the Christmas Carol and Service of Nine Lessons held in Abeokuta, lamented that the country had yet to fully recover from the first wave, as he described the outgoing year as turbulent.
At the event, organised by the state, the governor said, “We have done so well in agriculture; we remain the number one state in the production of cassava, eggs, poultry and the production of rice in the South-West. All these we managed to either attain or sustain despite the pandemic.”
The governor commended the youth in the state for speaking out during the recent #EndSARS protests without joining the looting spree in some parts of the country.
He added, “Christmas is a season of love. Let us go out of our way to be nice to one another; it has been a very tough year. This is the true essence of Christmas. Let us ensure that we celebrate with moderation and let us be responsible. This is not the time to play Russian roulette with our lives.
In his sermon titled, ‘Why did Jesus come’, the South-West Regional Coordinator of The Redeemed Evangelical Mission, Bishop Reuben Oke, who took his text from Luke 2 verse 7 and John 1 verse 11, said Christmas should not be reduced to a season to merry and exchange gifts.
He explained that even though the season meant different things to different people, the reason for the season was that Jesus Christ gave his life as payment for the sins of the people.
The cleric blamed the nation’s leaders for plunging the country into its current socio-economic and political travails, as he urged the people to always be reminded that they were alive because of God’s mercy and grace.