News Analysis

Covid-19: The Need for Increased Proactive Actions by State Governments

After weeks of total lockdown in some states including Lagos and Ogun, as well as Abuja, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Federal Government decided to relax the lockdown in Lagos and Ogun states, including Abuja for two weeks.

Residents of the affected cities did not hesitate to commence their daily activities on the first day of the relaxation, though restrictions on interstate travels, schools, religious and large gatherings remain.

Relaxing the lockdown and ensuring strict adherence to “Stay Safe” regulations, places a great task on the people and governments in observing and enforcing the regulations.

Or what can we say about commercial drivers who overload their buses despite several warnings for them to observe social distancing while carrying passengers.

The markets still witness large turnout of people without facemasks, shoving one another.

This also defeats the social distancing regulation.

President Muhammadu Buhari, in his latest nationwide broadcast, said the easing of the lockdown was to strike a balance between protecting public health and preserving livelihoods.

No doubt, the threat from the virus is far from being over, with over four thousand cases now recorded in Nigeria.

Now is the time for state governors to exercise their powers at enforcing the “Stay Safe” regulations.

For instance, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers state directed the demolition of a hotel that violated the lockdown order, while areas that flouted Covid-19 regulations were subjected to an indefinite lockdown.

The governor also constituted a task force to ensure compliance with the interstate travel protocols.

Also, state governors should be more vigilant, as many drivers conveying food items from the northern part of the country also smuggled passengers into some states.

Many state governments have come up with modalities to concerning the partial or total lockdown which included ban of commercial motorcyclists, fewer passengers in buses and taxis, hand-washing and sanitising at motor parks, controlled access to markets, allotting time-frame and schedules for business operations.

However, compliance by citizens and the ability of state officials to enforce the protocols are not forthcoming.

Despite the ban on interstate travels for those not on essential duties, many people not in this category still move from one state to another.

There is need for states to intensify public enlightenment campaigns, for people to know more about the dangers in violating the “Stay Safe” regulations.

The partial lockdown does not mean the nation has seen the end of the Covid-19 pandemic.

 In fact, the number of confirmed cases is increasing and if people fail to abide by all the regulations, there might be an explosion.

Now is the time for active testing and contact tracing measures, therefore state governors should set up the much-needed molecular laboratory test centres.

The Federal Government cannot alone provide the centres; therefore states should be actively involved.

The Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Chikwe Ihekweazu, has hinted collecting samples for testing is the responsibility of state governments.

Lagos and Ogun states were the first states in the South that did not wait for the Federal Government before setting up testing centres, though some states have equally set up these centres.

Other governors should set up these centres now, while state health authorities should also stand on the front lines to ensure a collaborative response to the pandemic.

Countries hardest hit by the coronavirus have begun taking tentative steps towards easing lockdown, and as the country continues its fight against Covid-19, Nigerians should adhere strictly to guidelines issued by relevant agencies.

These guidelines include regular hand-washing, physical-distancing, wearing of face masks, taking body temperature in public places and avoiding non-essential travels, as it is widely believe that health is wealth.

Olaolu Fawole

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