Governor Willie Obiano has signed the Anambra State COVID-19 and other Dangerous Diseases Prevention and Eradication bill into law.
The governor signed the bill at the Governor’s Lodge, Amawbia.
The bill, which was passed recently by the State House of Assembly, was necessitated by the need to ratify and legitimize measures taken by the Anambra state government to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.
Made up of fifteen sections, the Law provides for the protection of medical professionals, healthcare providers and other frontline workers in an epidemic or pandemic.
There are also stipulations for the conduct of citizens and residents during a health crisis such as lockdown of the state and shutdown of business, religious, social and traditional activities.
Other aspects of the Law deal with the closure of educational institutions, the civil service and other institutions in the state, wearing of facemasks in public places, social distancing, restriction on public gatherings, regulations on burials, etc.
Penalties for contravening the law include fines, community service or a jail term after a contravening party must have been tried, found guilty and sentenced by a competent court.
Giving his consent to the bill, Gov Obiano harped on the need for indigenes and residents of the state, to comply with the hygiene protocols established earlier by relevant health organizations and the state government.
The Governor stated that the protocols and other healthcare advisories are now backed by law and would attract penalties if contravened.
The Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Rt Hon Uche Okafor affirmed that the COVID-19 law was germane to the effectiveness of the battle against COVID-19 and other epidemics or pandemics as may arise in the future.
He noted that the law was necessary to strengthen, validate and legalize the state government’s policies on COVID-19 and other related health matters.
In his words, “Coronavirus took the world unawares including us in Anambra state. To combat it effectively, measures that were outlandish to our culture and laws were introduced. Hence the need for a law to incorporate such measures into our system and accommodate them.
“Certain rights of an individual like the right to movement and association as guaranteed by the 1999 constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria, as amended, were restricted. Some aspects of our culture like contact salutation, traditional, social and religious festivities were equally stopped.
“Although the advisories were already public, with commensurate compliance by Anambra people, there was a need to legitimize them for effective enforcement”, the Speaker concluded.