PRESS BRIEFING BY EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR OF PLATEAU STATE, HIS EXCELLENCY RT. HON. (DR) SIMON BAKO LALONG, CHAIRMAN OF PLATEAU STATE TASK FORCE ON COVID-19 ON EASE OF LOCKDOWN 11TH JUNE 2020.
1. Gentlemen of the press, you will recall that I addressed you on several occasions on our efforts to combat the Corona Virus pandemic and ensure that our people are protected.
2. You will also recall that we took several actions ranging from closure of schools; closure of boundary entry and exit points; partial and total lockdowns; restriction of religious gatherings to not more than 50 persons; ban on all anniversaries and cultural festivals; enforcement of social distancing and other hygiene protocols among others.
3. All these were geared towards ensuring that we contain the disease and effectively deal with its impact. While these measures have greatly helped, there is no doubt that they have caused hardship to all of us.
4. Let me specially commend the good citizens of Plateau State for their cooperation and substantial compliance to all guidelines issued in our efforts to combat the pandemic despite inconveniences. With this type of spirit, we shall surely overcome this pandemic in the long run.
5. So far, we have tested 2,032 persons for COVID-19 in the State. Out of this number, 130 were confirmed positive. We recorded 3 deaths which unfortunately occurred before their test results were confirmed.
6. At the moment, we have 26 persons still on admission and have discharged 99. There are 35 persons of interest at our quarantine centres in Pankshin, Quaan-Pan, Heipang and Mangu.
7. Following the recent release of guidelines by the Presidential task Force on COVID-19 on the gradual easing up of the Lockdown measures and subsequent call for States to take ownership of the processes, the Plateau State Government organized a 2-day Community and Stakeholders engagement from 8th – 9th June, 2020 with a view to evaluating the COVID-19 protocols for the State.
8. The engagement was also intended to get the views, opinions, experiences, advices and suggestions of the various stakeholders in order to assist Government review the existing Protocols and make necessary adjustments for the overall success of the fight against COVID-19.
9. Some of the stakeholders that participated in the interface included: CAN, JNI, Marketers and Traders Association, NURTW, Union of Tricycles Operators, Hotel, Recreational and Catering Services Association, Plateau State Traditional Council, NLC, TUC, NUJ, NBA, NMA, National Association of Nurses and Midwives and other professional Health Workers, PIDAN, NCWS and Plateau Youth Council.
10. Based on the outcome of such engagements and after critical review, Government has taken the following decisions:
i. The Lockdown earlier imposed in the State from Sundays to Wednesdays is hereby lifted until further notice.
ii. The curfew imposed by the Federal Government from 10pm – 6am will continue to be observed until further directives are issued.
iii. There shall be no entry whatsoever, into public offices, banks, markets, stores, tricycles and vehicles without wearing facemasks. Violators of this order will be arrested and taken before the mobile courts.
iv. Cultural festivals, anniversaries and large-scale gatherings remain banned.
v. Ban on commercial motorcycles will remain in force, except Dispatch Riders and other essential service operators.
vi. The ban on illegal Sunday markets on Ahmadu Bello Way, and Bukuru Metropolis remains in force.
vii. Churches and Mosques with large spaces shall be allowed to accommodate more than 50 worshippers under strict observance of the use of facemasks, social distancing, hand washing, use of infrared thermometers and use of sanitizers.
viii. While detail outlines on compliance shall be provided, let me emphasized that all public places like Markets, Shops, Hotels, Restaurants that fail to comply with the hygiene or sanitation regulations, social distancing as well as use of facemasks shall be penalized and where appropriate, bear any cost or penalty as would be specified.
ix. All public places like Markets, Shops, Hotels, and Restaurants that fail to comply with the hygiene or sanitation regulations, social distancing as well as use of facemasks shall be shut down and the owners prosecuted.
x. The Head of Civil Service has been directed to work out modalities for the resumption of other category of civil servants who have been working from home.
xi. While the Lockdown is relaxed within the State, inter-state borders shall remain closed with greater enforcement.
xii. All Schools are to remain closed.
xiii. As we ease the lockdown, citizens are strongly advised to participate in mass community testing which will be carried out in the State to avoid further spread of the virus.
11. In order to ensure effective and sustainable implementation of the decisions above, a Monitoring Committee consisting of Government officials and leadership of critical stakeholders will be constituted to ensure that there is compliance to the guidelines.
12. For the avoidance of doubt, Government would not hesitate to close down any market, business premises, and motor park that does not adhere to these protocols. Similarly, any community that violates any of the protocols would be isolated and locked down.
13. Government will step up sensitization and advocacy campaigns as well as deploy Risk Communication Experts who will be engaged in door-to-door campaigns in various communities as a means of continuous engagement with the citizens.
14. At this point, I wish to remind all citizens that the responsibility for staying safe and avoiding COVID-19 infection or spreading it is now in the hands of each one of us. People must take charge of their health and act in a manner that guarantees the health of others.
15. This is not the time to be careless or take the virus for granted. COVID-19 is still a highly infectious and deadly disease that may not go away soon.
It is therefore imperative for the people to change their life styles and adapt to the new reality.
16. Let me use this opportunity to also speak about the issue of palliatives which has generated attention and has equally been a source of misinformation, fake news and character assassination.
17. The Committee under the leadership of the Deputy Governor has completed the first phase of distribution which targeted the most vulnerable groups such as orphanages, persons living with disabilities, widows and 5 vulnerable households per polling unit. The second phase will soon commence with more vulnerable groups captured.
18. Therefore, you should disregard the fake news on the social media claiming that few palliative items were given to entire areas with large populations. Anybody spreading such information is deliberately misleading the public and also trying to incite the people against government. Those who insist on this mischief should be ready to account for their actions. I have repeatedly explained that the palliatives are not for everybody but for those who are most vulnerable and weak.
19. Finally, I wish to thank all stakeholders including security agencies, traditional and religious leaders, community leaders and professional organisations, private sector organisations, Members of the National and State Houses of Assembly, and above all, the media for their sacrifices through this challenging period.
20. Thank you and God bless you all and let us stay safe.
Rt. Hon. (Dr) Simon Bako Lalong, KSGG,
Thursday, 11th June 2020