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COVID-19: confusion in Anambra as Obiano, NCDC reel out conflicting figures Anambra imposes curfew in Awka, vows to sanction monarchs, PGs

By Okechukwu Onuegbu

There is confusion in Anambra State following the conflicting reports of coronavirus victims in the state released by the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and governor Willie Obiano.

That was even as the Anambra state government has moved to impose curfew in Awka and to close down the popular Eke Awka market and others within Awka South Local government area for two weeks alleging that they have recorded highest COVID-19 cases.

NCDC, in its website published that the state has 46 confirmed cases out of which 42 were still down with the pandemic, 3 healed or discharged and one death. However, governor Obiano in a broadcast on June 10 claimed that Anambra state has recorded a total of 53 cases out of which 13 patients have been discharged, 9 dead while 31 cases are still active or recuperating.

Obiano also conflicted the report when he claimed that “7 patients are in our Protective Care Center, receiving medical attention,” maintaining silence on whereabouts of 24 other purported COVID-19 patients.

He further blamed the dead, alleging that “The medical status of 7 of the 9 patients who died of Covid-19 in this state was confirmed after a postmortem test on them. In other words, they did not come to our Protective Care Center for professional management. Almost 90% of the people that have died from Covid-19 in our state were aged from 60 years and above.

“It is therefore important that people who fall into this age category who are said to have what the experts call co-mobility, should maintain a high level of vigilance to minimize chances of their exposure to the virus. Ndi Anambra, I must also emphasize that this pandemic does not select its victims based on age. In fact, one of the victims of the virus in this state was only 24 years old. And this is why we must all maintain a high level of vigilance to survive this scourge.”

Apparently concerned by the rising cases of COVID-19, the state government in two different releases on June 11 respectively  signed by Secretary to the State government, Prof. Solomon Chukwulobelu  and the state Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr C. Don Adinuba vowed that  effective from Monday, 15th June, 2020, the only mega market in the capital city,  Eke Awka Market, in Awka South Local Government would be shutdown for two weeks.

“This is as a result of non-compliance by the market traders and customers with Covid-19 protocols including wearing of protective face masks, provision of running water and soap for washing of hands, keeping of physical distancing etc. Also, effective Monday, 15th June, 2020, curfew in Awka South local government will be from 8pm to 6am daily, until further notice. These actions by the government is as a result of increased cases of Covid-19 in Awka South Local Government,” Chukwulobelu stated in a release.

It further claimed that “The Anambra state government is putting other market leaders and local government councils in the state on notice that a similar curfew action will be taken, and markets in the local government closed down if it is observed that such markets do not observe Covid-19 protocols. All should please be guided and take the issue of observing Covid-19 protocols seriously.”

But Adinuba’s release revealed that the violations were carried out by traders, buyers and suppliers in the market, which according to him, were against the condition for the reopening of markets in Anambra State on Monday, May 4, 2020, after five weeks of closure.

“It is regrettable that these precautionary measures meant to protect the lives of millions of our people have flagrantly been violated habitually, especially in Awka Market. The result is the recent spike in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and even fatalities in our dear state. Awka South Local Government Area, where Eke Awka is located, has recorded the highest number of COVID-19 cases of all LGAs in the state.

“ All the markets, motor garages, hotels and places of worship which enjoy high traffic in Anambra State are, once again, called upon to comply strictly with the requirements in the fight to check the spread of COVID-19. The fight requires each and every person in the state to avoid handshakes and embraces; to maintain a social distance of six feet; to wear a face mask in the appropriate place; to wash hands frequently with water and soap for 20 seconds; and to cough into our elbow or a disposable tissue,” the information commissioner disclosed. 

He warned that violators of COVID-19 protocols in the state would be prosecuted at Mobile courts, which according to him were “being set up in different parts of the state to try offenders who will be fined up to N10,000 or made to do community service.”

The state government in another statement dated June 9 signed by the commissioner for Local Government, Chieftaincy and Community Affairs, Mr Greg Obi, warned traditional rulers and president general of communities to monitor and enforce COVID-19 protocols in their domain or face sanctions.

“Effective immediately the Igwe (monarch) and the President General (PG) will be held responsible for any breach of government COVID-19 dream in their community. To enhance enforcement, no public event including burials should hold in any town without a written authorisation jointly signed by the Igwe and the President General.

“This will make them know when and where any event will hold in their town so as to effectively monitor such gathering. Only private burials are allowed by the state for now where not more than 30 people in total should gather. Any violation will not be tolerated and the Igwe and PG have necessary means to ensure enforcement including use of vigilante organisation as well as police command in their respective localities. Igwes and PG that refuse to enforce these directives in their communities will be sanctioned,” Obi stated.

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