Kaduna State Governor Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai has said that the government will not hesitate to impose a statewide curfew should that become the only way to enforce compliance with restriction on large gatherings to stop the spread of coronavirus in the state.
The governor said this on Monday in a state broadcast on emergency measures taken to protect residents.
Below is a complete text of the broadcast.
My dear people of Kaduna State,
It is a sad fact that coronavirus is in Nigeria. I address you today to reinforce the message that the danger from Covid-19 is real. This disease has devastated countries all over the world. Even the most advanced nations are struggling to contain the virus. Our best chance to contain the disease is to prevent it from taking root and spreading in our state.
I wish to reiterate that given our circumstances in Nigeria, with the limited capacity of our health system, preventive measures are the best way to protect our people. The Deputy Governor, Dr, Hadiza Sabuwa Balarabe and I, jointly hosted a live media chat last Friday on this matter. During the two hours of the chat, we reminded people to observe personal hygiene, especially respiratory hygeine, wash their hands regularly with soap and water, and avoid large gatherings. Earlier that Friday, we had issued a statement restricting large gatherings and advising religious and community leaders to help ensure compliance with the guidelines from public health experts.
Let me put on record our gratitude to those religious leaders who complied with the restriction on large gatherings and have also spoken up to support the preventive measures. Over the weekend, we also sadly observed shocking levels of complacency as some people ignored their responsibility to uphold preventive measures. We received reports of congregations in some churches and mosques, as well as large crowds in weddings and other social activities.
These actions indicate that such persons people do not realise the gravity of the threat that we confront. While no case of Covid-19 has been reported Kaduna State so far, the government has a duty to work with all our leaders and residents of our state to jointly ensure that everything is done to reduce the chance of the disease taking root and spreading in the state.
Therefore, the Kaduna State Government has decided to move from advice to actual enforcement of its restrictions on large gatherings, especially in churches and mosques. Security agencies have been directed to ensure compliance across the state. These agencies will also enforce compliance with the decision to close all schools, whether public or private, religious or secular, Islamiya or run by Christian missions.
The state government will not hesitate to impose a statewide curfew, should that become the only way to enforce compliance and make everyone understand the collective danger that we face. The emphasis on prevention is the only logical thing to do because our health system cannot cope with an outbreak of Covid-19. It is better to impose restrictions and save lives, than to be complacent and bury victims. Countries that have hesitated to impose extraordinary measures to contain coronavirus are now regretting. We have a chance to avoid such mistakes.
Therefore, we reiterate the advice for people to stay at home and avoid moving around, unless it becomes necessary. Every trip should be postponed until this pandemic is curtailed. Only those who are alive can travel. Keep yourself and others safe by staying in one place. To this end, we have contacted the relevant federal authorities to stop the Abuja-Kaduna train service and thus limit the danger from contact on the train and influx from people who might have been exposed to infected persons. At a time of danger, non-essential travel is a dangerous luxury and there is no point pretending that we are in normal times.
I want to urge all citizens who recently returned from travel overseas to please self-isolate for 14 days. Any symptoms of cough, fever or difficulty in breathing should be reported to the following numbers: 08025088304, 08032401473, 08035871662 and 08037808191;
Further to this necessity to minimise movement, the Kaduna State Government is directing civil servants from Level 12 and below to remain at home for the next 30 days, effective from Tuesday, 24th March 2020. Workers providing essential services, especially in the health, security and emergency service sectors are exempt from this directive. We urge every other person to stay at home and avoid unnecessary travel.
Markets constitute a source of large gatherings. To manage this in the interim, only traders selling food and medicines are permitted to open their shops, effective from Tuesday, 24th March 2020. This directive will be vigorously enforced by the security agencies and the Kaduna Markets Development and Management Company which will also ensure that all markets are fumigated.
The Kaduna State Government is closely observing the implementation of these measures and the evolving global picture and will not hesitate to impose a lockdown of the entire state, if events dictate. This will be done with every effort to take care of the poor and vulnerable.
My dear people of Kaduna State, let us face this danger with utmost faith in Almighty God who has gifted us with the knowledge to make rational decisions. Let each of us do our duty to prevent coronavirus from spreading among us. Failure to do so is to impose a death sentence on others. We can do better by acting in a responsible manner.
Malam Nasir El-Rufai