Efforts by the states and Federal Governments to contain the scourge of coronavirus in Nigeria have been coming in proportionate measures, with each government exerting prowess to protect its state. The Federal Government of Nigeria leads the charge from Abuja, while governors appear proactive in rolling out measures to curb the spread according to their states’ peculiarities.
On Thursday, the presidency announced that more measures are being considered in efforts to quell the spread from infected states to other states with no confirmed cases yet. Part of the decisions the Federal Government is considering include: stopping inter-state/inter-town travels, except for essential services.
Closing all motor parks and inter-state rail stations; using firefighting and other adaptable vehicles and personnel to fumigate cities and towns, and recalling retired health professionals to join the fight.
The Minister of Health Dr. Osagie Ehanire said the measures have become really necessary this time because there are so many suspected cases to trace.
“We have 4,370 people of interest whom we are tracing. We urge those who have had contact with suspected cases to immediately report to the authorities. We urge Nigerians to support the authorities in this regard.
“Nigeria is on the verge of reaching the level of community spread. We must stop this immediately or we will record exponential cases in the days ahead. There is no better way to say this,” the Enahire said.
Before the Ministry made this known, some states like Rivers, Kano and Kaduna had made the decision to ban inter-state transportation, closing entries to and fro the states. On Wednesday, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State said his government has initiated inter-state transportation restriction as a measure of protecting its citizens from the infection. According to him, the decision became necessary following a foiled attempt by an infected person to sneak into the state.
“Based on this alarming information, the State Security Council met Yesterday (Tuesday) and reviewed measures already put in place and decided that there was urgent need to adopt stringent measures to protect those living and doing business in the state from the virus.
“With effect from 6pm on Thursday, March 26, 2020, the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa will not be open to air traffic… all land and sea borders will be closed. Vehicular movements in and out of the state have been banned. In essence, no vehicle will leave Rivers State for any other state and no vehicle will be allowed to enter the state,” Wike said.
In the same vein, Kano and Kaduna states have restricted air and land transportation to the states, as Kaduna has started a dusk-till-dawn curfew with plans to fumigate all the market places in the state.
However, Lagos seems to be doing the most as it is the most infected state in Nigeria. Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has been applauded for his pragmatism in handling the challenge.
The Lagos State House of Assembly in a swift response to the escalation of the pandemic has passed a bill to curb the spread and oversee other matters related to it. The bill which contains 25 sections is entitled: A Bill for a Law to Combat and Stop the Spread of Coronavirus Pandemic in Lagos State and for connected purposes.
Lagos is the first state in Nigeria to pass a bill respecting coronavirus. With 14 new cases recorded, Lagos has 12, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in Nigeria to 65, 44 of them in Lagos. The state needs more help than any other in Nigeria.
Sanwo-Olu has outlined more measures to combat the virus including fumigation of Lagos streets and the closure of markets which took effect on Thursday.
“To ensure we keep our environment safe and curtail the contagion of COVID-19, we are deploying disinfectant equipment to fumigate the entire state. These fumigation machines will be deployed to every part of the metropolis for sterilization of our public spaces and surfaces,” Sanwo-Olu said on Thursday.
However, the population density of the state has called for more drastic measures and funds to help the state’s Ministry of Health to implement some of the outlined measures, which includes expanding the capacity of hospitals and health centers to conduct tests and providing more isolation centers.
The federal government on Thursday, responded to the call by approving the release of N10 billion to the Lagos State government, and N5 billion to the Nigerian Center for Disease Control (NCDC).
With the measures taken so far, the Lagos State government appears to be on top of its game, and it is setting the pace for other states. Nigeria has recorded only one death, and the Lagos State Ministry of Health announced that six more infected people have tested negative and will be allowed to go home soon.
However, the clamor for a total lockdown of the state has been going on and the State Government has responded by issuing an opinion survey to Lagos residents. It is hoped that the survey will help the state government to make the right call on movement in the state, and provide for the vulnerable in case the lockdown takes effect.