By Yakubu Uba
Gov. Babagana Zulum of Borno has extended the lockdown in the state by one week to stem further spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
Zulum announced the extension which he described as “painful, but necessary” in a radio and television broadcast on Wednesday in Maiduguri.
“It would have been better for a complete relaxation of the lockdown measures, if we had an effective vaccine or if the infection rate is declining by the day.
“The available statistics show an increase in coronavirus cases on daily basis and cause mainly by community transmission. For now, social distancing and lockdown are the only veritable options to limit community transmission in the absence of any effective vaccine to fight the pandemic. The pandemic is real and we must face it.
“I have extended the lockdown measure by a week but directed tomorrow Thursday May 7 and Friday May as well as Monday May 11, 2020 to open up for a period between 8a.m to 5p.m to enable petty business and markets to flourish so that families can access essential food items.
“We will review the situation next week Wednesday, May 13, 2020 and the COVID-19 Committee will announce the fundamental strategies to be observed and regulations to be followed in the fight against the pandemic, within the relaxation period.
“However, government will not hesitate to renew lockdown orders if the people are not willing to adhere to guidelines,” Zulum said.
The governor said that to avert the danger of the spread of the virus through community transmission, his administration would ensure the ban on inter state travel and ensure strict observance of all the hygienic practices such as washing of hands, use of facemask and hand sanitisers as well as social distancing.
“Government is not unmindful of the hardship resulting from the lockdown of businesses and workplaces. We are aware of the plight of our compatriots at the IDP camps, the widows, the vulnerables and the very poor in their places of abode.
” The situation is not easy even with the average and well-to-do in the society. It is a war situation requiring supreme sacrifice and endurance as well as solidarity to survive the onslaught of an invisible enemy.
” In Borno, we have shown the much expected resilience and perseverance just as we did at the height of the insurgency when we completely suspended all our socio-economic activity to remain safe at home.
“We have put in place a machinery for the distribution of food items as part of the palliative measures to cushion the effect of the lockdown policy. The committee has started work in ernest and implore on them to not be non-partisan in the assignment given to them.
“In this task, government has recieved support from the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Northeast Development Commission, and other well spirited organisations like Dangote Foundation. We will continue to work with all stakeholders in bringing succour to the lives of our people while we handle the threats of the infectious disease.
“Meanwhile, government is aware of some of the institutional challenges of the COVID-19 response team and the difficult circumstances under which they operate. We must salute all our medical and health workers for the sacrifices and bravery with which they discharge their duties in saving the lives of others.
” I specially commend the management of the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital and the state COVID-19 committee for their good work. All their shortcomings as alleged by the people will be addressed,” Zulum said.