COVID-19: Northern governors mull total lockdown

FILE PHOTO: The ultrastructural morphology exhibited by the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China, is seen in an illustration released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. January 29, 2020. Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM/CDC/Handout via REUTERS.

The sudden rise in Coronavirus cases in the commercial city of Kano which experienced the first death and the rising case of cross-border transmission may force the northern governors to place a total lockdown sooner than expected, The News Chronicle gathered.

Kano said to be the largest city in Nigeria with a high population of poor and vulnerable persons is said to be treading on a dangerous path with the rising cases of new infections, which might be dangerous to the north in particular and the country in general.

Rising from a teleconference meeting, the Northern Governors Forum had agreed on certain measures to curb the spread of the disease, but not until certain palliatives were put in place, The Northern Governors Forum Chairman, Simon Lalong stated.

During Channel Television’s Sunrise Daily on Fridaythe Forum’s Chairman and Plateau State governor, Simon Lalong, also disclosed the economic plans the governors had for the region beyond COVID-19.

“At the end of the day, we’re all unanimous on the decision that we took. First of all the forum agreed about the control of the cross-border transmission. We emphasized the need to have very strict border attention. That was after we started realizing the effect of the virus in Kano. Kano is the largest city in Nigeria and to underestimate the effect of the virus in places like that is going to be very dangerous not only to the north but to the country.

“We are going to agree to have a unanimous lockdown. But eventually, we listened to some of the States and realized that they have their peculiarities but then we advised that we should have a lockdown, either partial lockdown or total lockdown.

“We also looked at the socio-economic aspect, apart from the health aspect. What will be the effect of Post COVID-19 on the north and then we set up a committee to be chaired by the Kebbi State government to address the economic aspect as well as the health aspect”, Lalong disclosed.

According to the governor, considering the economic consequences of a lockdown, the forum decided that states must put up palliatives to cushion the effects.

“The north is made up of predominantly farmers. If you have a lockdown without food and no hope of producing food even after the COVID-19, then there is going to be a dangerous situation. All we agreed was that looking at these peculiarities, let us allow a little time while we put additional grants, either from the Federal government or spirited individuals. While we get these palliatives, then we can think of total lockdown. In the meantime, we agreed that states would look at their peculiarities and see what they can do, the partial or total lockdown”, he added.

Lalong however, revealed that he was for a total lockdown but some governors expressed divergent views and opted against a total lockdown, to which he warned. “But COVID-19 is not a virus that you wait until it gets to your state. When it gets to your state, you cannot control the effect of the spread and so the best thing is to fight it as if you already have the virus in your state, he warned.

He disclosed that palliatives are being awaited from the Federal government and that 20 states would be the first beneficiaries.

Lalong also stated that states would determine who are to benefit from the palliatives and that “measures have been put in place to ensure accountability”. 

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