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Edo State postpones schools resumption, amid COVID-19 fears

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The Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki has postponed the resumption of academic activities in schools in the state till February 1, amid fears of COVID-19 further spreading.

Obaseki disclosed this during a press conference in Government House, Benin City, as part of measures rolled out to halt the spread of the virus in the state.

He also announced a reviewed of the curfew earlier imposed in the state, to now span from 10pm to 5am.

He said the state government has built a robust response mechanism while dealing with the first wave of the coronavirus, but that data from comparison between the first and the second wave of the pandemic showed that there was need to take drastic measures so as to limit the spread of the new wave of the virus, which has been confirmed to be more virulent and infectious.

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According to him, “Comparing the first six weeks of the pandemic from March 23, 2020 with the first six weeks since December 1, 2020, Edo State has witnessed an 84.5 percent rise in the number of infected persons.

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“There has also been a 10.5 percent increase in the number of older persons infected with Covid-19. It is early days yet, but we have evidence suggesting that more older persons infected with Covid-19 are dying.

“Most of the cases in the early phase of the pandemic were travel-related, but since December 2020, there has been a 13.9 percent increase in community transmission of the disease.

“This is a big concern especially with the evidence before us that there has been a 15 percent increase in the number of persons infected with Covid-19 who show no signs or symptoms of the disease, but are transmitting it in our communities. Our children and youth are major contributors to this group,” he said.

On the new directives to halt the spread of the virus, the governor said the general recommendations are that individuals, groups and organizations must take responsibility to avoid closed spaces, crowded places and close contact.

“Curfew is now reviewed from 10 pm to 5 am effective Saturday 16th January, 2021,” adding that “schools are to remain shut till February 1, 2021, when the prevailing realities are to be reviewed to determine if it would be safe to reopen the schools.”

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The governor also stressed that sanctions and incentive shall be used to drive better compliance using enforcement and monitoring teams across the state, urging government-owned organizations to model best practices.

On religious gatherings, the governor said, “Handwashing stations with running water and liquid soap/alcohol-based hand sanitizers must be provided at entry and exit points.

“There must be temperature checks at entrance points and facemasks must be used correctly and consistently.

“Sitting in gatherings should not exceed a maximum of 30% of capacity per session and ensure physical distancing (at least 1.5m) must be adhered to.

“The length of meetings should not exceed 1 hour and there must be breaks in-between sessions for decontamination. Children below 12 years and adults above 60 years should stay at home.

“Monitoring/Enforcement teams must be set up and include powerful and influential religious leaders as drivers.

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“There must be sensitization on Covid-19 prevention during every meeting. Written commendation by the governor and deputy governor will be issued to religious institutions who show good compliance to Covid-19 preventive measures.”

For the transportation sector, the governor insisted that there must be compulsory, consistent and proper use of face masks by riders, drivers and passengers, adding “Monitoring/Enforcement team must be set up. Stop and check teams are to be set up to track and sanction motorbikes, tricycles, cars, buses for non-compliance with facemask use.”

He added that there must be strict observation of ‘no facemask, no entry’ policy in hotels, lounges, bars, restaurants while insisting on no eat-ins in restaurants.

“These facilities must provide hand washing stations with running water and liquid soap and reduce numbers of chairs in bars, lounges and others and maintain physical distancing. All public swimming pools must be closed or pool party events banned,” the governor added.

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