COVID-19: Niger governor to sign executive order for compulsory use of face mask

Governor Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger State has directed the Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General of the State to prepare an executive order for the enforcement of compulsory use of face mask in the state following the surge in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state.

The directive followed the holistic briefing of the activities of the State COVID-19 Committee to the governor, as well as the current situation of the pandemic in the state.

The governor, who said the order will take effect from Monday, February 1, 2021, noted that lockdown was not an option for now, considering the economy hardship. However, the use of face mask will be made compulsory and mobile courts will be established for the prosecution of violators which will include a fine of N5,000.

The governor also directed that only essential workers should be allowed entrance into Government House and other public offices as determined by the heads of ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).

He also said the committee should collaborate with all the security agencies including state traffic guards and other local security outfits in the state to ensure the enforcement of the executive order.

The governor also emphasized the need for more rapid enlightenment campaign by all relevant organisations in the state using all the available media platforms as well as all the major languages in the state, on the need for people to be more conscious of the pandemic and take personal responsibility by observing all the laid down COVID-19 protocols.

He suggested that those coming to the state to demand COVID-19 test should be charged the sum of N20,000.

Earlier, the Commissioner for Health, Dr Muhammed Makusidi on behalf of the State COVID-19 Committee said so far, the state has a total of 695 confirmed cases spread across 22 out of the 25 local Government Areas in the state and 14 deaths, adding that out of 16 active cases, 15 were NYSC members.

The commissioner who said molecular laboratory established at the Minna General Hospital has been functional since September, 2020, enumerated some of their challenges to include public perception, non-compliance to medical directives as well as the sustainability of the laboratory which he said will cost a substantial amount of money monthly.

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