Anambra State Governor Willie Obiano on Tuesday announced that schools in the state would resume on January 25, 2021 instead of January 18 as earlier stated.
In a statewide broadcast, the governor said this would enable them to prepare necessary COVID-19 protocols.
The governor also said the wearing of masks in public would be enforced while entry into government offices would only be allowed to persons putting on masks.
Obiano said the state was cognisant of the sweeping second wave of COVID-19 and was doing everything to contain it.
He said all gatherings must not have more than 50 persons while nightclubs remain shut.
Full text of the broadcast’
Ndi Anambra ekenem unu.
Once again, it has become necessary to address you on the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic that is currently sweeping across the world.
Ndi Anambra, this threat is not only real but even more deadly. It is more deadly because after struggling with the pandemic for nine months, we have dropped our level of vigilance and returned to our normal lives. But the virus has not gone away. On the contrary, it has come back with renewed viciousness. And it is claiming many lives because our people are not complying with the Covid-19 protocols.
Our Response to Phase 1 of Covid-19
Ndi Anambra, our index case of Covid-19 was reported on April 9, 2020. We were fully prepared to deal with that emergency. We had erected some of the best Protective Care Centers in Nigeria and our healthcare workers were sufficiently prepared to handle the challenge. We managed the pandemic so well that in November last year, Anambra was rated as one of the states with the lowest number of positive results in Nigeria. As at December 7, 2020, we had conducted 90,000 tests and only 287 were confirmed positive. As at that date too, Anambra had no new cases of Covid-19. We had no patients in our Protective Care Centers and none on home treatment. Anambra was beginning to breathe freely again. We were all enjoying the fruits of our collective efforts – the leaders of the church, traditional rulers, market leaders, school administrators and the general public had made great efforts to obey the standard Covid-19 protocols. We were doing just fine until the second wave of the pandemic crept in.
The Second Wave of Covid-19:
Ndi Anambra, this second wave of Covid-19 did not take us by surprise. We have been monitoring global trends on the pandemic and we saw it coming. We anticipated that the second wave would hit us hard because of our well-known culture of mass return during the Christmas and New Year season. So, we made efforts to prepare our people to mitigate the impending challenge. We held wide consultations and town-hall meetings with the Igwes, the religious leaders, civil society organizations, leaders of market task force, transport operators and leaders of various community groups and associations. During these meetings we emphasized the need to revive all the structures that helped us survive the first wave of the pandemic.
Sadly, it appears that our warnings fell on deaf ears. Our people allowed themselves to be carried away by the joys of the Yuletide Season and failed to maintain the Covid-19 protocols. Today, we are faced with a clear and present danger. Between December 7, 2020 and January 11, 2021, we have recorded 110 new cases of Covid-19 in Anambra State. This is not good at all. Ndi Anambra, we must do everything within our power to halt the spread. That is why we have revved up our testing capcity and brought the total number of tests done to 13, 412 tests so far.
Surviving the Resurgence:
Ndi Anambra, my administration has taken a string of hard decisions to stamp out the renewed spread of this pandemic before it gains a serious advantage over us.
1. All government offices must observe the standard Covid-19 protocols – washing of hands at the entrance, wearing of facemasks, regular use of hand sanitizers and strict observance of social distancing. Nobody will be allowed into any government premises without properly wearing a face mask.
2. No one should step outside their homes without wearing a facemask.
3. The ban on nightclubs is still firmly in place. Hotels are directed to ensure strict compliance to Covid-19 protocols.
4. There should not be more than 50 people in any public gathering.
5. The Covid-19 Action Teams in all our 61 markets must ensure full compliance to the standard Covid-19 protocols. They must set up a hand-washing point at the entrance to each market, take the temperature of visitors to the markets and ensure that both traders and their customers are wearing their facemasks properly. All markets in Anambra State are given one week to set-up the necessary safety standards and ensure proper compliance. Any market found violating the standards after one week shall be quickly shut down.
6. Transport operators are advised to revert to all the practices that helped us during the first wave of the pandemic. They must ensure social distancing inside the vehicles and maintain a passenger manifest.
7. Schools are advised to revive the Covid-19 structure and practices that helped protect our children during the first wave of the pandemic. Schools in Anambra shall not re-open on January 18, 2021 as earlier scheduled. Rather, schools will re-open after two weeks from today to enable the principals and teachers prepare for the return of our children We commend school proprietors and administrators in the state for their careful handling of the first wave of the pandemic. However, we expect even more from them this time.
8. Churches and other religious organizations are advised to set up Action Teams and go back to the practices that helped us in the first phase of the pandemic.
9. We shall align with any policy on a possible nationwide curfew by the Federal Government to ensure effective compliance.
10. Our test centers are active and ready to handle cases with impressive turnaround time. We hold the record of the shortest turnaround time in the country today. We have cascaded our sample collection to all the 21 local government areas in the state.
11. For the sake of emphasis, nobody should go to any market, public places, church, schools, enter any transport, attend functions as stated above without properly wearing of facemasks.
12. Finally, the investment we made in setting up an Oxygen Production plant at COOU Teaching Hospital, Amaku has started to pay off. When we made that investment, we had no idea that sooner than later, Oxygen would become such a priceless commodity. Today, I am delighted to announce a donation of 450 Cubic meters of oxygen to select hospitals in the state to help is the fight against the pandemic. The modalities of distributing the commodities shall be worked out and announced by the Ministry of Health.
Ndi Anambra, we have been here before. We shall overcome it a second time. But we must work together this time. Everyone must play their own part well for us to survive. As a government, our key strategy is testing, treating and tracing Covid-19 cases in line with the guidelines given by the World Health Organization and the Nigerian Disease Control Center.
Ndi Anambra, we are firmly on top of this situation. Please don’t be afraid. We shall handle this resurgence the way we handled the first wave. We have managed so many cases successfully and we shall do much more. Our Protective Care Centers are ever ready to deliver great results. Our Covid-19 Home Management Task Force has managed more than 95% of cases successfully in their various homes. We shall continue to do our best to save lives and preserve our people until we take delivery of the Covid-19 Vaccine.
Ndi Anambra, I will not end this broadcast without some kind words for our healthcare workers who have continued to sacrifice their personal convenience for our collective safety. They deserve our prayers and commendation as they buckle up to stem the rise of the pandemic this second time around.
Umunnem, let’s increase our chances of surviving this scourge by obeying the safety standards of Covid-19.
God bless Anambra State
God bless Nigeria.