Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi has updated his directives on the measures put in place by his administration to halt further spread of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the state.
Fayemi revealed the new order in a live broadcast on the state electronic media on Tuesday, June 30, 2020.
His speech reads:
I salute your resilience, cooperation and collective resolve to keep Ekiti State free of this pandemic since this global challenge surfaced in Nigeria in February 2020. This is the seventh time that I would be addressing you since the break out of COVID-19 Pandemic in Ekiti State, in fulfilment of my promise to constantly update you on the progress we have made together, and the new path that we must tread, as we collectively fight this insidious but deadly disease.
Our Journey so far: As at my last address on May 31, Ekiti State had tested over 150 people, contact traced about 200 and we had a total of 20 cases with 16 discharged, two dead and two, active. We were also poised to acquire and activate our own Mobile Molecular Testing Laboratory procured by the esteemed members of the Response Resource Mobilisation Committee under the leadership of Prince Julius Adeluyi-Adelusi with our iconic elder, Aare Afe Babalola and our past Governors as patrons.
The acquisition of a laboratory was for us, a game changer in our strategy to combat the spread of the virus as it would enable us to increase our testing capacity, especially to determine if we are already in the community spread stage of infection. Our laboratory has now been fully installed and functional and we have increased testing in our communities. As at today, we have conducted additional 417 new tests and recorded 23 positive cases. In all, since we started combating COVID-19, Ekiti State has tested 567 persons and recorded 43 cases. Currently, we have 13 active cases, two deaths, while 28 patients have been successfully treated and discharged.
Even though the 43 cases represent 6.7% of the total test conducted so far, and even though it could be said to be relatively low, it gives me a great concern that we have recorded this much and that in the month of June, many of the positive cases appear to have contracted the disease through community spread, as they could not be traced to any known cases. So, while our general risk assessment in comparison to other states is our commendable, the implication of community spread is very grave.
Nonetheless, we have largely managed our situation better than most other places and we continue to receive commendations for seriously enforcing our prevention protocols. We have also been very deliberate in our actions, especially in easing the lockdown so as not to rush to take any action that could jeopardise the general health of our people in spite of the tremendous pressure from some quarters who have been severely affected by the continued closures that were imposed. While we quite understand the severity of their sacrifices, we had to balance every decision on the scale of public safety.
In line with our phased relaxation of restrictions strategy, and to mitigate the losses in the economy of individuals and businesses, I announced the five-day work week (Monday to Friday) but retained the restriction of movement at weekends; while night curfew and ban on inter-state movement remained. I also directed the interface of government with stakeholders in the education, religious and market communities to agree on modalities to reopen the sectors.
Next Steps: I have now received the recommendations from the stakeholders and would like to thank all religious leaders of the dominant faiths, unions of teachers and principals, private school owners as well as the Parents’ and Teachers’ Association (PTA) representatives who served tirelessly on these committees to arrive at a consensus on how to return Ekiti to normalcy in a responsible, sustainable and sensitive manner, while not compromising the gains of months of excruciating sacrifices by the people.
We have also tried to work in tandem with the national protocols on COVID-19 as coordinated by the Presidential Task Force and the leadership of the NCDC to ensure that Ekiti State does not contradict the national containment regulations.
By the current assessment of the situation and the advice of the experts, we have decided to proceed as follows:
i. Restrictions: Free unhindered movement will continue Mondays – Fridays only from 6:00 am to 8:00pm daily while Dusk to Dawn Curfew will be enforced 8:00pm – 5:59 am seven (7) days a week.
ii. There shall continue to be a restriction of movement at weekends (Saturday and Sunday) until July 19, subject to the conditional relaxation of church attendance on Saturdays and Sundays.
iii. Interstate Travel: In conformity with the Federal Government directive, the ban on travel to and from Ekiti State is hereby lifted except during the Dusk to Dawn curfew daily.
iv. Large Gatherings: The ban on large gathering of more than 20 persons except on approved worship days continues. Social, political or business gatherings like parties, burials, meetings, bars, viewing centers, sports meet must not exceed 20 persons and must comply with prevention protocols of 6-feet social distancing, face masks and hand washing. Government will be extremely strict in enforcing this ban as shown in the recent shutdown of a church during a burial ceremony in Ise-Ekiti last week that violated the ban and the officiating minister was arrested.
v. Religious Services: As jointly agreed with the leadership of the faith community, religious worship centres may resume controlled services from Friday July 17, 2020 starting with worship services once a week; Friday Jumat for Muslims and Saturday and Sunday Services for Christians. This is however subject to strict and full compliance with the regulations regarding worship centres which includes social distancing of 6-feet between worshippers, hand washing and face masks. Maximum capacity of each building should be determined with the six feet social distancing principle and the number must be conspicuously displayed outside the building. A Taskforce will go round to assess the level of compliance and issue a Certificate of Readiness before centres can reopen. Details of the regulations will be available on the State COVID-19 app and website www.covid19.ekitistate.gov.ng as well as with the leadership of the faith community. Any worship centre that violates the laid down protocols will be shut down and the cleric prosecuted.
vi. Schools: Similarly, efforts are now in top gear to ensure our children return to school from July 20, 2020 as recommended by the interface between the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and all stakeholders in the education sector. However, this might be in phases starting with students in terminal classes (SS3, JSS3 and Primary 6) to prepare for their exams. Other classes will be gradually absorbed as schools meet all requirements to accommodate them safely and responsibly. A certificate of Readiness showing that a school has adhered to all the conditions required for school reopening will be issued to all schools before they can reopen.
v. School Sanitation: On the part of government, apart from setting the general standard for both the private and public schools to reopen, we are embarking on a quick rejuvenation of our schools to ensure that basic facilities such as water, sanitizer, soap and other facilities to aid hygienic practices are in place. I have also directed that all the schools should be fumigated and kept safe for our students before reopening. Our school reopening plans are without prejudice to the ongoing engagement at the national level.
vi. Markets: Subject to compliance with the protocols on the operation of large markets, Oja-Oba and Oja Bisi in Ado-Ekiti will now be open to lock up shops only. Facemasks, social distancing and hand washing will be strictly enforced in all markets in Ekiti State.
Street trading, makeshift stalls, kiosks and open display of wares in the market are totally prohibited. Traders who do not have permanent shops in these markets are advised to move to Awedele Market where more stalls have been prepared for use. Market leaders should contact necessary authorities on how to secure stalls for affected traders.
vii. Community Spread/Facemasks: Now that we are in phased reopening of the economy, the risk of community spread is very high. Regrettably, it has been observed that many people are now living with a sense of false security by not adhering to the personal safety measures in public, such as the use of face masks, hand-washing or hand-sanitizers and maintaining social distancing. This is the time to take personal responsibility for you and your family’s safety and health as contact tracing can no longer eliminate the risk of infection.
Going forward: To ensure our people know how serious this is, I would like to further reiterate that the use of face masks in public places will now be strictly enforced. I have directed the Security Agencies and the Ministry of Justice to arrest and prosecute any person caught in public places without wearing the face masks appropriately, covering the nose, mouth, and chin.
The COVID-19 Prevention Regulation is still in force and anyone caught in violation will be punished in line with the regulations. I was particularly disappointed with the unfortunate news that many of our people were holding funeral, wedding, and birthday parties in flagrant disregard to public safety and in defiance to the ban on such gathering.
It has also been sadly observed that outside the State capital, people in other towns and villages do not take the preventive measures seriously, they hardly wear face masks nor observe any social or physical distancing, living as if they are invincible or have some immunity against the virus. Such deceptive self-confidence could be catastrophic and must stop in our own interest.
Ekiti Kete, following the successful establishment of our own Mobile Molecular Laboratory and successful trials, we will begin our random community testing starting with Ikere Ekiti Local Government on July 1, 2020 and moving from local government to local government according to a time-table that has already been drawn. The random tests will enable us to determine the level of community infection in our local governments. The health workers will also provide health checks for our vulnerable senior citizens to ensure any co-morbidity like high blood pressure, cholesterol or diabetes is well-managed and under control. I therefore appeal to you all to cooperate with the medical team when they come to your home or community. As I stated in my last broadcast, there is nothing to be afraid of in taking the test as I have taken it myself. I appeal to our traditional, religious and opinion leaders to help us mobilise our people by volunteering themselves for the test.
Our battle against this pandemic has elevated healthcare on our list of priorities as a people and provided an opportunity to recalibrate our healthcare ecosystem. We have therefore been working to improve our health facilities, provide easier access for our citizens and encourage our personnel to keep giving their best. Let me use this medium to express my appreciation once again, to our health professionals who are in the frontline of the fight against this pandemic. Some of them had contracted this virus in the course of duty. We thank God that those who got infected have now been fully treated and discharged, but this clearly explains the danger that our medical personnel are exposed to while working to keep us safe.
a. As part of incentives to boost their morale, I am happy to announce that the State has taken a N2.5 billion Life Insurance cover of N2m each for 500 frontline medical personnel involved in the COVID-19 assignment. This is in addition to the prompt payment of COVID-19 special allowances to qualified cadres. Government is also working tirelessly to meet its obligations to the medical professionals as soon as possible.
b. With the invaluable assistance of members of the COVID-19 Response Resource Mobilization Committee, we have begun the upgrading of our primary healthcare facilities starting with the Primary Healthcare Centre in Okeyinmi, Ado Ekiti. The first stage will cover 9 facilities across some local governments while our goal is to upgrade at least one primary healthcare facility in all the 177 wards in Ekiti State. Government is also undertaking additional construction work in EKSUTH and Oba Adejugbe Infectious Disease Hospital. Additionally, government shall soon embark on the upgrading of all our secondary health facilities across the State.
c. We are also expanding our medical facilities to be able to respond more quickly to this pandemic. For example, another molecular laboratory is being planned for the state, this is apart from an additional one just secured by the Ekiti State University through Tetfund. Similarly, we are expanding our isolation centres from its current 150-bed capacity to about 500-bed capacity across the State.
d. To improve our citizen’s access to qualitative healthcare, I am pleased to announce the commencement of the Ekiti State Health Insurance Scheme (EKHIS) on Wednesday July 1, 2020. Over 5,000 citizens have already been enrolled and will be able to access healthcare at all participating facilities from that date. I will be happy to flag it off at a formal ceremony on July 10, 2020 in Ado Ekiti. With our health insurance scheme now active, our people will not need to go bankrupt or seek unsafe modes of healthcare due to poverty. Affordable Healthcare Access is now available to everyone who enrols in Ekiti State.
e. We have continued to provide succour for our vulnerable citizens in form of food palliatives with the support of well-meaning individuals and organizations like CACOVID, VSF and so many who continue to donate to our Food Bank. I am also glad to announce that with the assistance of our Microfinance and Enterprise Development Agency (MEDA), hundreds of Ekiti citizens are accessing funds from the Federal Government COVID-19 support loans to reactivate their businesses after the shutdown. We are also working to attract more low interest business loans from financial institutions to help our entrepreneurs revive and expand their vocations.
I am aware many of our people are now avoiding hospitals for the treatment of ailments that are not associated with COVID-19 because of the fear that they might be held down or could be infected. This is an extremely dangerous thing to do now. As we can see, we have had only two deaths in the state from COVID-19, many people are however dying of other diseases because they do not want to go to the hospital for treatment. I therefore urge you to please patronise health professionals and not engage in self-medication that can be more deadly. Our hospitals are open, and the health care givers are well protected to treat you.
Ekiti Kete, at this stage, the ball is now in our court. We must take adequate care, take personal responsibility, and ensure we keep safe. Every one of us must do whatever is within our power to ensure we jointly fight this dangerous virus to the end. No one needs to be persuaded again that the virus is real and here. We have seen many prominent personalities who could afford any medical care that money could buy, succumb to the virus. That is why we cannot afford to be complacent or fatalistic about it.
On a final note, I would like to thank you all for your trust, confidence in and cooperation with our leadership, which has resulted in the low level of infection in the state. I thank our medical personnel, the security personnel and all those who have been working tirelessly in the frontline. I also want to appreciate our donors, members of the Response Resource Mobilisation Committee, the PTF, CACOVID, NCDC and other organisations for their contributions. May we see the end of this challenge in good health.
Thank you all and stay safe.
Alale Ekiti a gbe a oo.
Dr Kayode Fayemi, CON
June 30, 2020