By Demola Akinyemi
Kwara state government Tuesday evening declared a total lockdown of Offa community to effectively trace the contacts of residents who might have innocently contacted the COVID-19 virus in the ancient town even as it denied that one of the two COVID-19 victims has died.
The government also said that security agencies have been drafted to the community to ensure that the residents fully comply with the directive while arrangements have been completed to send palliatives to the people of Offa during this period.
Recall that a Chartered Accountant native of Offa Alhaji Jimoh Muideen a returnee from the United Kingdom who was later diagnosed to have been killed by COVID-19 virus was taken Offa last week Thursday from UITH Ilorin for burial unknown to many family members, sympathisers and particularly the Islamic clerics who performed burial rites the cause of his death.
Governor Abdulrazaq Abdulrahman had declared earlier in the day that 75 persons have been on contact tracing over the development, while the Consultant in the hospital Prof.A.K Salami who concealed information about the deceased has been suspended.
Speaking last night at a press conference in Ilorin, the Deputy Governor and Chairman Technical Committee on COVID-19 in the state Mr Kayode Alabi said the total lockdown will start by 6 pm today Wednesday for the next fourteen-day, and subject to review based on the progress of the COVID-19 Technical Committee on the contacts tracing.
He said, “The shutdown means a total restriction on every vehicular movement into or from Offa. The exceptions to this directive are those contained in the recent address of Mr President which granted access to vehicles transporting foodstuffs, poultry and pharmaceutical products.
“Any other movement, private or commercial is hereby banned for the next 14 days or until such a time the government is satisfied that our people are no longer at risk of mass infections arising from the two cases that have been traced to the town.”
He also said that “This directive is under the Kwara State Infectious Diseases (Emergency Prevention) Regulation 2020″, adding that ”Any violators are liable to punishments outlined in the Kwara State Infectious Diseases (Emergency Prevention) Regulation 2020.
“Various security agencies, including the police and the Nigerian Navy, have been drafted to enforce this directive while His Royal Highness the Olofa of Offa has been fully briefed.”
He nevertheless appealed to the residents to bear with the government saying,” We urge our people to please bear with us in this tough period. The human community is certain to come out of this pandemic stronger and better.”
He also gave assurance saying”Kwarans, this is no time to panic. Please stay calm. The Government will do everything to keep you safe.
”But we also need you to play your role. Stay at home. Keep social distancing. Avoid the crowd. Prioritise personal hygiene. And please do not spread unverified news. Claims that one of the two suspected COVID-19 cases has died is FALSE. They both remain stable and asymptomatic at this time.
The government, therefore, called for, “timely report of any suspicious case of COVID-19.”, saying that “Anyone with travel history to frontline states, the America or European countries and others in the last three weeks should please contact the Kwara State Technical Committee for relevant advisory. ”
On the distribution of palliatives to residents of Offa, he said,” Arrangements have been made to distribute palliatives to the poorest of the poor to assist them in this trying time. This will happen before the week runs out. The categories of the people to receive the palliatives are strictly the aged, the physically challenged, widows/widowers, poor artisans, and any other needy group that the ward-based committee on palliatives deem qualified for the foodstuff. These committees comprise traditional rulers, religious leaders and local Community-Based Organisations whose duty is to monitor the exercise.
“We want to clarify that this palliative cannot go round. It is targeted strictly at the poorest of the poor in the belief that they are the most affected at this time.
“We pray for all of those infected to get well soon. We assure them of getting the best care possible. Rest assured that you have committed no crime. To all our healthcare specialists, we are grateful to you. We cannot thank you enough. Kwara people are grateful to you and would always have your back now and always.” He said.