Anambra State governor, Mr. Willie Obiano, in line with the resolve to make Anambra remain the safest state in Nigeria in every sense of the expression, has ordered the closure of all open markets in the state for 14 days, with effect from Monday, March 31, 2020.
The exceptions are foodstuff and medicine markets and the order followed a series of consultations with various stakeholders in the markets.
According to C. Don Adinuba, Commissioner for Information & Public Enlightenment, during the two-week closure, the people affected by the order are enjoined to stay indoors and maintain a high level of hygiene like closing their mouths and noses while coughing or sneezing.
They are also advised to maintain social distance by keeping away from persons by six feet, in addition to washing their hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and declining to hug or shake hands with any person.
Adinuba, said Anambra State Taskforce on the Coronavirus, which comprises, among others, the Nigeria Police Force, Anambra Vigilante Group and other security and intelligence organizations, have been directed to ensure strict compliance with the order closing down markets in the state.
According to him, “The closure is the last resort in the determination to promote the wellbeing and secure future of the people of Anambra State. The government deeply regrets the inconveniences which the order will cause. The directive will be reviewed in two weeks’ time. If any person has contracted the contagion, it will show during the period of the market shutdown. Therefore, only people free of COVID-19 will be in the markets when they are reopened.”
Speaking further the Commissioners added, “Our people are unfortunately susceptible to the Coronavirus. We travel extensively to all parts of the world for business, leisure, study and medical tourism. Besides, we have as many as 63 major markets in the state, including the Onitsha Main Market which is the largest market in West Africa. The markets are always full of millions of people from different countries in West and Central Africa, thereby making our people vulnerable to the contagion.
“The Anambra State Government would like to use this opportunity to announce the creation of a special account to assist ndi Anambra grapple with the grave challenges of the Coronavirus. Known as the Anambra State CORAVID- 19 account, it is in response to various inquiries from people of Anambra State origin in different parts of Nigeria and beyond who have been seeking ways to assist their people since the viral outbreak. The account, which is with the Fidelity Bank, has number 5030112159. It will be administered by Governor Obiano, Chairman of the Anambra COVID-19 Taskforce, to ensure absolute transparency and accountability.”
He implored those who wish to donate materials and equipment like ventilators, surgical face masks, goggles, surgical gloves, stretchers, automated ICU beds, personal protective gear, examination gloves and infrared thermometres should bring them to the office of the Secretary to the State Government.
Names of donors will be broadcast and published in the mass media every two weeks, together with their donations. How the cash they donated was spent will also be published.
Equally, those who want to donate machines and equipment are advised to send them to the SSG Office rather than directly to various hospitals and health centres because each item will have to be certified fit for use by the Centre for Disease Control, working in conjunction with the Anambra State COVID-19 Taskforce which is made up of experts.
“It is worthy of note that Anambra State has three isolation centres located at Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu Teaching Hospital in Awka, Nnamdi Azikiwe Teaching Hospital in Nnewi and Onitsha General Hospital. They are being upgraded constantly. In addition, there are surge centres to take excess patients from the three hospitals. The surge centres are at Umueri General Hospital in Anambra East Local Government Area, Ekwulobia General Hospital in Aguata Local Government Area, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu Teaching Hospital in Awka and the Auditorium of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Camp at Mbaukwu/Umuawulu in Awka South Local Government Area, which can accommodate 500 beds while the entire camp can accommodate 3,000 beds. There are plans to create another surge centre in any of the big mission hospitals.” Adinuba added.
He said the state government is working hard to get the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control to accredit the state teaching hospital as a centre for tests because its mega laboratory, where over 500 tests can be conducted simultaneously, meets international standards, though it needs reagents to start testing suspected cases of the Coronavirus.
“We are also working relentlessly that Nnamdi azikiwe Teaching Hospital in Nnewi becomes another designated centre to test the Coronavirus. These efforts of the state government and many more require a lot of funds. All forms of assistance from our people, friends and the international community will be well appreciated.
“In this connection, Gov Obiano, Chairman of the Anambra State Taskforce on COVID-19, publicly expresses gratitude to Jack Ma, chairman of Ali Baba Group of China, for his recent great philanthropic gesture to the African Union, from which Nigeria, including Anambra State, is benefitting. Governor Obiano, therefore, considers it imperative that the Federal Government provides at least one billion naira (N1bn) to Anambra which is at a risk state in view of the multitudes of people in its numerous markets and the peripatetic nature of the people who have been helping in the rapid development of all parts of Nigeria.” he said.