By Lucky Isibor,
As a way of tackling the dreaded Coronavirus, major markets in Edo State are to be shut down with effect from Tuesday, April 7, effective from 11:59 pm (midnight)
Deputy Governor of the state, Comrade Philip Shaibu, announced this in Benin while briefing journalists on the outcome of meetings with leaders of market women and other groups in the state. He explained that the decision was taken in order to allow for a proper fumigation of all the markets in the state.
Shaibu debunked the rumour making the rounds in the state that Governor Godwin Obaseki was down with the dreaded disease, insisting that he (Obaseki) was hale and hearty and only went on self isolation after meeting Mr. Abba Kyari, the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja.
In the meantime, Shaibu said that the traders will be relocated to public primary and secondary schools close to the markets pending the fumigation of the markets.
According to him, the state Public Works Volunteers (PUWOV) have been mandated to maintain peace at the makeshift markets, noting that armed policemen and officials of the National Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSDC) will not be allowed into the premises as they will be outside to maintain peace.
The Deputy Governor said that only 50 dealers in foodstuffs will be accommodated at each of the temporary markets while the rest of their colleagues will have to wait till when the markets re-open after the fumigation, adding that the government decided to take the middle course instead of a total closure.
“Only the fumigators will be given access to the markets for the duration of the exercise. It is only the sale of food items that will be allowed at these temporary markets. The traders will have to be relocated to allow for a proper job of fumigating the markets”, he said.
The Deputy Governor disclosed that the state government has directed that anyone who wants to leave his or her home to public places must use facemask, adding that anyone who flouted this would be prosecuted accordingly.
He noted that, going by the hike in facemask, the state government would liaise with some clothes merchants and tailors to mass produce face-mask so that the people can afford it.
“Government has mandated that if at all you must leave your home for public places, you must use a facemask. You can make a local one for yourself. You can use your handkerchief for one. What we are saying is, if you must come out of your house, you must use one. We have discovered that, some persons contracted the virus by unkowningly having contact with people with this virus. So, anyone who does not use facemask in public places would be prosecuted.
“Government is aware that facemask price has skyrocketed, and so many can no longer afford it. What the government plans to do is to liaise with clothes marchants and tailors to have facemask in mass production so our people can afford it”, he added.
On her part, State Coordinator, World Health Organization (WHO), Mrs Faith Ireye said the state has so far recorded 11 cases of the virus and penned down 234 contacts being traced across the state.
While urging people to stay at home in order to prevent spread of the virus, Ireye lamented that people not willing to disclose information about suspected cases couple with multiple contacts with people who have the virus has made the job of tracing contact difficult.