ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, THE EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR OF PLATEAU STATE, RT. HON. (DR) SIMON BAKO LALONG, KSGG, ON THE CONTINUATION OF TOTAL LOCKDOWN OVER COVID-19 PANDEMIC, HELD ON 30TH APRIL 2020.
1. Dear citizens of Plateau State, you will recall that I addressed you on Thursday 23rd April 2020 to update you about our efforts in curtailing the Corona Virus disease otherwise known as COVID-19.
2. In that address, I announced the relaxation of the total lockdown from Midnight of Thursday 23rd April 2020 to 12th Midnight of Sunday 26th April 2020 to enable people again re-stock their homes. Accordingly, the total lockdown resumed this Monday 27th April 2020.
3. As you are aware, the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) confirmed the first case of COVID-19 in Plateau State on 23rd April 2020. Immediately this development was conveyed, Government activated its response mechanisms to treat the patient who was already on isolation.
4. Thereafter, health officials began contact tracing towards halting further spread and infection. This has largely been carried out with 19 contacts traced and isolated while the index case remains in isolation for treatment and is in good condition.
5. Fortunately, the results of all the 19 contacts associated with the index case have been received and all of them are negative.
6. Regrettably, the Government discovered the unfortunate leakage of a test result conducted at the COVID-19 Laboratory of the National Veterinary Research Institute Vom, which found its way to the social media.
7. This unprofessional conduct is being investigated thoroughly and anyone found culpable will be dealt with accordingly. We have equally reached out to the affected persons and their families to reassure them and mitigate the situation.
8. Having received report of a suspected case in Enugu State said to have travelled to Plateau recently, we have since identified the contacts associated with the person and 12 people who might have had contact with the index case have been put on isolation and their samples taken. Results are being awaited.
9. In addition to this, the results of other suspected cases are being awaited, while the results of 65 other suspected cases earlier sent for investigation were received today, which all returned negative.
10. Dear compatriots, with the COVID-19 index case confirmed in Plateau State, we certainly have to redouble our efforts at combating the pandemic by cutting off community transmission and blocking more imported cases.
11. The only way we can do this is to encourage and sustain preventive measures, which cannot succeed with stigmatization and discrimination. Like I have said repeatedly, Corona Virus is not a death sentence and scientific evidence suggests that there is high survival rate among those infected.
12. I appeal to citizens to avoid stigmatizing people who are either quarantined, suspected or confirmed to have the disease. While we take all necessary measure to remain safe, we must not subject people to psychological torture, which has devastating effects on their health and capable of discouraging future tests.
13. Further to the efforts at combating COVID-19, Government has taken the following decisions:
i. The total lockdown which resumed midnight Sunday April 26th 2020, shall be relaxed from Midnight of Thursday 30th April 2020 to Midnight of Sunday 3rd May 2020 to enable people again re-stock their homes. Thereafter, the total lockdown will resume on Monday 4th May 2020.
ii. This will henceforth be the pattern until further review. In order words, the period of restocking will last from Midnight of every Thursday to Midnight of every Sunday.
iii. In addition to the total lockdown which closed movement in and out of the State, and in order to curb community spread of COVID-19, Government has decided to close all intra-State borders with effect from 4th May 2020. Consequently, there shall be no movement from one Local Government to another even during the period when the total lockdown is relaxed, except for those on essential services as earlier enumerated.
iv. Farmers are strongly advised to farm within their localities and Local Government Areas to avoid breaking this order. These measures are necessary in order to curb community transmission of the disease and make contact tracing easier.
v. The profiling and return of Almajiris has commenced and shall continue until the last Almajiri is relocated. On 26th April 2020, the first batch of 279 Almajiris were evacuated. Out of this number, 243 were sent home to their States of Bauchi, Kano and Kaduna, while 36 were sent to their Local Governments in Wase and Kanam.
vi. Starting from 4th May 2020, all citizens shall be required to use facemasks in public places in addition to observing all hygiene and social distancing regulations.
vii. In line with the Mr. President’s pronouncement, there shall be overnight curfew from 8pm to 6am effective 4th May 202. Only people on essential duties are exempted from this directive.
14. Fellow compatriots, the Government remains fully aware of the collective hardship that this situation has brought upon us. No one, including those holding public offices are immune from these challenges. That is why we must exercise more patience and resilience as we work together to defeat this pandemic.
15. Already, the measures put in place to reduce the hardship among the most vulnerable have commenced with the distribution of palliatives to orphanages, people living with disabilities, and the elderly, which kicked off on Saturday 25th April. This exercise will continue with other groups up to all the Local Government Areas.
16. While Government is doing everything possible to expand the number of beneficiaries, members of the public, especially those who have the means are strongly encouraged to also initiate personal interventions by reaching out to the needy within their communities.
17. We should also avoid spreading fake rumours and unsubstantiated information about palliatives, which is capable of misleading the public and putting them under unnecessary tension at this very sensitive time. Those who are in this habit are hereby warned to desist, as they will be held responsible for their actions.
18. The Deputy Governor who chairs the palliative committee and his team are working assiduously to ensure that this distribution is carried out in a transparent, equitable and successful manner. I have confidence in their capacity to deliver and they need our support and prayers.
19. There will be no discrimination of any kind in this exercise. Nevertheless, members of the public are free to report any case of abuses directly to the Deputy Governor or myself for immediate action.
20. Government is also concerned about the impact of the Corona Virus pandemic on the education sector. That is why I directed the Plateau State Universal Basic Education Board to commence the implementation of the UNICEF EDUCATION CAN NOT WAIT INTIATIVE (ECW) to enable our children learn at home.
21. At the moment, learning has started with Television and Radio lessons for children in Mathematics and English transmitted on the Plateau Radio Television Corporation from 9-11am weekdays. In addition, we have produced simplified study materials that are being distributed to children especially in rural areas that may not access Radio and Television services.
22. In addition, Government is partnering with U-LESSON Education, one of the new Education Technology Company in Nigeria founded by one of the illustrious sons of Plateau State, Mr. Sim Shagaya that will offer online science education to secondary school students.
23. Let me reiterate that the breaches in our inter-State borders remain a major challenge to our efforts at combating the virus. With the ban on non-essential inter-State passenger travel by the President, it has become imperative that more radical measures be put in place to curb illegal infiltrations of our borders.
24. We are strategizing and re-inforcing the borders especially illegal routes. It is important to warn that stiffer penalties and actions will be applied to violators no matter their Status.
25. Those who aid and abet this illegality, including Government functionaries should be ready to face the full wrath of the law. I also remind the public that all guidelines earlier issued remain in force as the mobile courts are on duty to try offenders.
26. Finally, I wish to register my appreciation to the entire citizens of the State who have shown tremendous understanding and commitment to supporting our administration in responding to the Corona Virus pandemic.
27. You have demonstrated that it is our battle which we must all fight together. God willing, we will surely win.
28. Thank you and may God bless Plateau State, God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Rt. Hon. (Dr) Simon Bako Lalong, KSGG
Executive Governor, Plateau State & Chairman,
Northern Governors Forum.
30th April 2020.