COVID-19: Oyo residents raise questions as Makinde says total lockdown last resort

• As state allocates N500million for testing kits, receives N100 million from donors

With the number of COVID-19 cases in neighbouring Osun State rising to 14, residents of Oyo State have begun to raise questions about Governor Seyi Makinde’s stance to only subscribe to a total lockdown of the state as a last resort.

Making reference to the fact that the positive COVID-19 cases were returnees from Ivory Coast, some residents questioned whether the state was not at similar risk with the usual influx of Nigerians and non-Nigerians bringing in goods through the borders in Saki and Ogbomoso areas of the state.

Earlier on Wednesday, Makinde had maintained that the dusk-to-dawn curfew remained sufficient, adding that expert advice, facts and figures still supported a partial and not a total lockdown.

This is as he noted he was convinced to allow persons selling perishable items and other essential goods to continue to open their stalls so as to keep the state’s economy running.

“Currently, there is a curfew from dusk to dawn. People should only go out for essential purposes. We have done the analysis; experts have weighed in and have said wherever we see a problem should be where we should lockdown.

“Those not selling perishables items should not open their shops or stalls. We must keep our economy running.

“Total lockdown is our last option we’ll use and it must be based on facts and figures and expert advice. Right now the facts and figures and expert advice only tell us to review our situation from time to time to take a logical decision,” Makinde had said.

However, Osun’s scenario spiked concerns by some residents who urged the state government not to wait till an aggravation of the situation before ordering a total lockdown of the state.

One of those who expressed concern to Tribune Online is Demola Solalu who wondered if the state government was ready to handle a pandemic.

He objected to the governor’s consideration of the livelihood of persons who live by daily income, arguing that a spread was best curtailed by totally restricting movement of people.

“The state government is treating this scourge with kid gloves. Look at what we are hearing from Osun. Some indigenes of Ejigbo who travelled from Abidjan were said to have brought the disease home. If not because the state government got wind of their arrival very early, it would have been more disastrous.

“I am not panicking but I am worried that we do not have the capacity to manage the pandemic if the number increases beyond the limit, we are going to be in a serious mess. The virus cannot spread itself if human beings do not spread it.

“The safest way to fight the disease is to restrict movement. The argument that the economy of the poor people who live by daily income is noted. But, I want to ask apart from those selling food, who else is making money in the state today,” Solalu said.

In the same vein, a consultant microbiologist to Ladoke Akintola University of Technology Teaching Hospital, Professor Samuel Taiwo held that the state government should consider a total lockdown because people continue to fail to adhere to social distancing.

He questioned whether the curfew was effective in Ogbomoso, noting that many places continued to remain crowded and went about their businesses as usual.

“In combating this scourge according to WHO recommendation, social distancing is important. But from my going to town, the people are not maintaining social distancing. The danger is that if anybody enters this town with such a case, then people will be infected. The chances of spread become higher if people continue to be crowded everywhere. People are not complying with social distancing and so a lockdown should be the alternative,” Taiwo said.

Similarly, a lecturer of Lead City University, Ibadan, Dr Bayo Busari urged the federal government to review its position on the lockdown and palliative measures which only affects Lagos Ogun, FCT leaving out Oyo.

This is as he urged the state government to be wary of the threat posed by coronavirus if he does not declare a total lockdown of the state.

To the dismay of several residents, it will also be recalled that in spite of the state having the third-highest number of cases, as of Monday, President Muhammadu Buhari had exempted Oyo State from its order of a lockdown of some states.

Public office holders to include Chief Press Secretary to the Oyo State governor, Mr Taiwo Adisa and a three-term member of the House of Representatives, Dr Ajibola Muraina had also warned the Federal Government against playing politics in handling the COVID-19 pandemic as seen in its exemption of Oyo from the lockdown order.

ALSO READ: Lagos govt condemns worshippers who attacked officials over lockdown violation

On the other hand, some other residents regarded the partial lockdown as sufficient but noted that the state government must be on the alert to declare a total lockdown if there is any aggravation in the number of cases in the state.

A resident of Saki area of the state, Mr Tunde Olatunbosun said he will only support a total lockdown of the state if there is a total lockdown in all states in the country.

“This partial lockdown is okay. The border between Oyo State and Baruten, Kwara State, is already locked down. They do not allow the movement of goods. With the curfew, people are already cautious of their movement. I moved from Saki to Otu today and hardly did I meet more than five vehicles. The only way I will support a total lockdown is if it applies to the entire 36 states in the country so that they will come out with results as once. We go to places and hardly knows who has the virus as we relate with others during the daytime. People are aware of the virus as they can see that the situation has affected several of our activities,” Olatunbosun said.

Pointing to poverty and the fact that many live on what they earn daily, a resident of Ibadan, Professor Festus Adesanoye said a partial lockdown was enough.

“I believe that the government has done right because things are very difficult for people generally. There are many people who earn their daily bread by going to their workshop and it is that money they use to take care of their families. I feel for those in Lagos. I have been around for over 70 years and I can’t remember when things were this difficult for people. Some people don’t have food. In my area, we have been having people knock on our doors asking for N500 to go and buy food to eat. I can imagine what will happen to people if you lockdown for two weeks,” Adesanoye said.

Oyo State director of the National Orientation Agency, Mrs Dolapo Dosumu also said what was imperative was for residents to adhere to good hygienic practices.

“At this moment, I do not think we need to have a total lockdown. You can’t just keep people inside without providing palliatives on how they will survive. For us in Oyo State, the majority are daily earners. What could be more beneficial to us is for people to abide by the simple precautionary measures like we are told to observe hygienic procedures. In spite of partial lockdown of markets, the way people cluster in markets is baffling. Why can’t people observe social distancing? Some people can spend two hours in the market to buy one item. People should prioritise keeping distance than contacts. Also, people involved in public service should make it a priority to adhere to good hygiene procedures. It will be a lot of mental drain to keep people at home without doing anything. The priority should be prevention,” Dosumu said.

Mr Abiodun Jimoh, national representative of the Parent Teachers Association in Oyo State said he feared the mental drain that students will suffer from a lockdown, saying a partial lockdown was okay for the meantime.

“There is total lockdown in some states like Osun, Bauchi but the situation is not the same in Oyo. I think we should look at the situation over the course of the next one week. I fear for the mental drain in our children though I hear that the state government plans to teach over the media. Partial lockdown for now is okay,” Jimoh said.

Meanwhile, Tribune Online reports that the 100-bed infectious disease centre, Olodo, Ibadan, meant to serve as a major COVID-19 isolation centre for the state, will be ready to take suspected cases from next Monday.

Interim head of the Oyo State COVID-19 task force, Professor Temitope Alonge disclosed this on Wednesday when he led members of the task force on a tour to ascertain the state of work at the centre.

Speaking after the tour, he rated the state of completion of works as about 70 per cent, assuring that the centre was arranged such that there was no risk of an uninfected person contrasting infection from cases isolated at the centre.

While acknowledging the dearth of testing kits at the two diagnostic centres in the state, Alonge said the state government had approved N500 million for the purchase of testing kits.

Upon the arrival of the testing kits ordered, he said the state will be able to conduct 20 tests per day.

In his own address, another member of the task force, Mr Akinola Ojo said the state had received N100 million from well-meaning Nigerians to support the fight against the virus.

Though he failed to name the donors, Ojo, who is state Commissioner for Finance, said the names of the donors will be uploaded on the state government’s website by end of the week.

He said the state had also set up a COVID endowment fund where it expected more financial support from good spirited Nigerians.

In his own contribution, another member of the task force, Mr Fatai Owoseni, linked reported incidences of looting of shops to the tendency for shop owners to wait till the commencement of curfew before locking their shops.

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