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Address Delivered by His Excellency, Prince Dapo Abiodun (MFR), Governor of Ogun State on Update and Efforts to Combat COVID-19 Pandemic

My dear people of Ogun State.

This is my first formal briefing on COVID-19 situation in our State since the commencement of the second phase with further relaxation of the restrictions in the guidelines to combat the pandemic in our State. The new phase that commenced on 1st June, as I announced last week, opened up all five working days in the week, i.e. Monday to Friday with only Saturday and Sunday as lockdown days. This a continuation of the gradual removal of days of restriction and extension of relaxation daily windows to our people.

The last week has been eventful, not just for the commencement of the new phase but for other COVID-19 related developments. Yesterday, Thursday, 4th, June 2020, we had the highest number of cases in one single day since the first index case on 27 February. We recorded 34 new cases on that day and with new cases recorded on other days between Thursday, 28th May and yesterday, the tally for the week is 74 new positive cases, as against 59 in the previous week, an increase of 31%.

COVID-19

Thus, Ogun State has now recorded a total number of 316 positive cases to date. We thank God, once again, that in the same period, an additional 4 individuals have been successfully treated and discharged from our Treatment Centres, bringing the total discharged cases to 168. This leaves us with 148 active cases. God’s benevolence also ensured that we did not record any additional mortality since the last briefing. Mortality remains as it was, that is 9. Again, we pray for the repose the souls of the departed and God’s succour to their families and mercies to the world.

We have trained the personnel of the correctional service in Ogun State, particularly their medical team, on how to identify suspected COVID-19 cases amongst inmates, quarantine and take swaps to prevent transmissions and outbreak in the correctional centres. They were also provided guidelines.

In my last briefing, I indicated that we would engage the religious leaders to work out modalities for the gradual lifting of restrictions on religious activities. The engagement process has commenced. Indeed, we have invited and received written submissions from both the Christian Association of Nigeria and the League of Imams and Alfas on their suggestions on how the restrictions on places of worship can be relaxed.

Subsequent to the submissions, the representatives of the two religious bodies also jointly held meetings with high-level representatives of government to discuss the submissions. This is in line with our inclusive approach to governance.

We believe that the approach will ensure that the final decisions that will be arrived at will enjoy the buy-in and ownership of the religious leaders who will, in turn, communicate these to their respective congregations. We should also recall that early this week, precisely on June 1st, the Presidential Task Force announced some relaxation on restrictions of religious activities, subject to the peculiarities of each State.

After a robust deliberation by the joint meeting of religious leaders and government representatives and taking into cognizance the baseline guidelines issued by the Presidential Task Force, the following major conclusions were arrived at

  • The religious leaders appreciated the efforts of the Ogun State Government in combating the COVID-19 pandemic in the State and are pleased with the outcome as reflected in the high testing capacity, faster turn-around and comparable lower mortality rate;
  • The meeting acknowledged that despite the efforts of the Government and the commendable outcome, the pandemic is still very much with us as manifested in growing community transmission;
  • The gradual relaxation of the lockdown is only because there is an acknowledgement of a new normal, and there is, therefore, the need to start planning for the new normal;
  • Government appreciates the cooperation of the religious leaders over time in the fight against this common enemy, particularly, their submissions on the relaxation of restrictions on religious activities, which are practical, similar and mutually reinforcing;
  • A subcommittee, inclusive of the religious leaders, will review the submissions, the discussions as well as expert opinions of medical scientists to harmonise all the views to arrive at a composite framework for final adoption of the committee in the next few days, on or before Friday, 12th June 2020;
  • The 12th June deadline for the completion of the guidelines, which will be unveiled to the public in my next address is to enable the gradual opening of religious activities to tentatively commence on Friday, 19th, June 2020, subject to the review of preparedness by our churches and mosques to the new normal;
  • A task force comprising of the religious leaders, government and security agencies will be established to monitor and ensure compliance with the agreed guidelines for religious activities;
  • Any place of worship that violates the guidelines will be closed;
  • The guidelines will be reviewed at regular intervals, based on developments, including expert opinions and data from the field.
  • In the meantime, the Government will continue the engagement, as well as intensify enlightenment and education of the public on the various guidelines to combat the pandemic in the State;

Let me restate that all the existing guidelines to combat COVID-19 in the State remain in place. Some of which are

  • All 5 working days in the week (Monday to Friday) are still opened for businesses and other economic transactions with only Saturday and Sunday as lockdown days;
  • Observation of dusk-to-dawn curfew as directed by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) i.e. between 10.00 pm and 4.00 am daily;
  • Restrictions on Interstate travel are still in force;
  • Wearing of face masks in the public is still mandatory;
  • Only one passenger is still allowed for motorcycles and two passengers only for tricycles;
  • Taxi cabs and buses still have 60% limitation on their carrying capacity and the measure to arrest and impound any driver that contravenes this in our State is in force;
  • The COVID-19 Task Force in markets must continue to ensure physical distancing, availability of handwashing facilities and use of gloves in addition to facemasks for traders;
  • Fumigation will continue in our markets and other public places;
  • Limitation of all gatherings to a maximum number of 20, is still in effect;
  • Gyms, event centres, cinemas, arcades, bars, casinos, nightclubs, swimming pools, barber-shops, spas, beauty Salons, and all public parks, including those in private residential estates, are still not allowed to operate;
  • Restaurants are permitted to provide only take-away services and should also ensure that there are no more than 10-15 customers at a time with physical distancing. Guidelines for eat-in services are still being fine-tuned;
  • All industries in Ogun State must continue to comply with the “Infection Prevention and Control Guidelines for Workplaces in Ogun State to Combat COVID-19” as issued by the Ministry of Health in conjunction with the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investments. Therefore, testing of staff for COVID-19 in all industries in the State must be sustained;
  • The Task Force set up to conduct random spot checks on the premises of the industries, restaurants and other business enterprises to confirm compliance is still in operation.

We have continued to be encouraged about our approach, that is deliberate, methodical and well-thought-out. Not only are the outcomes commendable, but we have also continued to receive commendations. As recently as Tuesday, a team of Presidential Task Force was in Ogun State and after the visit applauded our approach, especially keeping a sharp focus on Primary Healthcare Delivery system, despite the efforts to combat COVID-19.

Therefore, our steady, cautious and focussed approach is our strength and it does work. The government does not derive any pleasure from asking for more time to free the space. It is both a moral and constitutional responsibility for us to ensure the welfare, wellbeing, wellness and security of all our citizens.

As always, I especially thank all our frontline workers; doctors, nurses, pharmacists, medical lab scientists, supporting personnel and indeed all health workers. I commend the resilience and understanding of security personnel, journalists and other essential workers for their cooperation in the efforts to flatten the curve of COVID-19. There is no doubt in my mind that, together, we will banish COVID-19 from our lands.

I thank you all for listening and God bless. Igbega Ipinle Ogun, Ajose gbogbo wa ni o.

Prince Dapo Abiodun, MFR,
Governor of Ogun State, Nigeria.
Friday, 5th June 2020

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