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Plateau records more cases of COVID-19; evacuates Almjiris to home bases

by Christiana Gokyo, Jos

The Plateau State government says the state has recorded more cases of COVID-19 that rose to 33. According to Governor Lalong, “This necessitated us redoubling our efforts to checkmate community spread by aggressively conducting contact tracing, isolating suspected contacts, and treating the infected.”

Briefing newsmen on Sunday at the Government House, Jos, the governor said “The state has successfully treated and discharged 10 infected persons, including the index case, who have all been reunited with their families. The other 22 infected persons are still undergoing treatment and in stable condition.”

But the governor noted that, “Sadly, one suspect whose sample was taken, died yesterday before his result was returned positive, We have continued to quarantine suspected persons that come in from other states at our designated facilities to ascertain their status over the mandatory period of 14 days.

“As at today, we have 255 persons in our various quarantine centres. At this point, I must appreciate the support and cooperation that most citizens have demonstrated during this trying moment.

“The level of compliance has been appreciative, despite the inconveniences that this pandemic has exposed us all to.

“However, the major challenge we have continued to face is the breaches at our state boundaries where people continue to violate the closure order through compromise or resort to illegal routes.

“This has exposed the state to more dangers of COVID-19, as virtually all the cases we have recorded originated from other states and were imported by people, who defied our directives and entered the state at all costs. This is indeed sad.”

According to Lalong, “During my visit to our state boundaries at Forest-Hawan Kibo, Ganawuri-Manchok and Jingre-Saminaka, I again warned that those compromising our collective security will not be allowed to prevail, as government was more than ever determined to put an end to the flagrant disregard for directives.

“As a government that is people-driven and desirous of carrying everyone along, we have noted the concerns raised in respect of the need to have more room for people to secure services such as banking, which were limited because of the existing lockdown schedule. In order to address these concerns and further strengthen our efforts at combating COVID-19, government has reviewed some of the guidelines.”

The governor also noted that, with effect from 17th May, 2020, the total lockdown will resume from midnight of every Sunday and be relaxed on Wednesday’s 12 midnight.

He said this will henceforth be the pattern until further review. In other words, the total lockdown is relaxed on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, while Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays remain totally locked down.

The governor stated that, “Restriction on all inter-local government movements shall continue to apply, except for those on essential services as earlier enumerated.

“The use of facemasks in public places remains compulsory, and anyone found not using one outside his home would be arrested and charged to the mobile court,” he warned.

According to him, “To ensure better enforcement and compliance, government will henceforth enroll some of its civil servants for the exercise. Accordingly, the Head of Service has been directed to immediately deploy civil servants from grade levels 10 to 14 to various points across the state.

“Local Government chairmen are to also replicate same in their domains to ensure effective coverage of the entire state, and the ban on all illegal markets such as the Sunday markets on Ahmadu Bello Way, Bukuru and environs shall remain in place indefinitely, while social joints, nightclubs, drinking parlours are to remain closed,” he said.

“While the Faringada Market continues to defy all guidelines for social distancing and sanitation, and poses potent threat to our efforts to defeat COVID-19, the market will be shut down until the trader unions and the management of Jos North Local Government come up with an acceptable model for regulation that poses no risk to public health and safety,” the governor stress.

He also brought to view that, “Religious gatherings shall continue to have not more than 50 persons, while social distancing, hygiene and sanitation regulations shall continue to apply. All these decisions are without prejudice to the overnight curfew instituted by the federal government, from 8pm to 6am.”

He assured that “In the coming week, more palliatives from the federal government and the private sector donor initiative, CACOVID, shall be received to boost the efforts of the State Government.”

Governor Lalong thank the various individuals and corporate organisations that have contributed to the Plateau COVID-19 Trust Fund, both in kind and in cash, saying that, “Government has realized almost 100 million naira in donations, and re-assured that they shall deploy it “transparently.”

“On the profiling and return of Almajiris children, which commenced on 26th April, 2020, government has made a lot of progress so far, and has returned a total of 601 Almajiris to their states of origin to be tested, reunited with their families and properly cared for. The states include Kaduna (38), Bauchi (419), Kano (92), Jigawa (47), Gombe (5),” he stressed.  

“Plateau state has also received 119 Almajiris from other States; 108 from Nasarawa State and 11 from Gombe State, who have been profiled and tested. Out of this number, only one (1) tested positive to COVID-19 and is receiving treatment in one of the isolation facilities. The rest have been reunited with their families within the State.

“Also, we have profiled 36 Almajiris, who are indigenes of the state and have been tested and returned to their families. 25 are from Quan-Pan, while 11 are from Wase Local Government Areas.”

Furthermore, the governor said “The decision to carry out this evacuation was a collective one taken by governors of the 19 Northern States during the meeting of the Northern Governors Forum, in order to guarantee the safety of these children, who were exposed to many dangers, including COVID-19.

“Their education and well-being will be handled by their states, which will bring to an end the infamous Almajiri system, which has become a social challenge.”

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