Subject to the fulfilment of some laid down protocols, worship centres in Ekiti State may resume for services as from July 17.
This is in line with the agreement reached by the state government with leaders of religious organisations in the state.
Governor Kayode Fayemi, who disclosed this on Tuesday in a statewide broadcast on the next stage in the State’s COVID-19 Response, said arrangements are in top gear to ensure that pupils and students return to school from July 20 as recommended by stakeholders in the education sector.
The two largest markets in Ado Ekiti, Oja Oba and Bisi, according to the Governor, will now be open to lock-up shops only subject to compliance with protocols, stressing that street trading, makeshift stalls kiosks and open display of wares in the said markets remain banned.
The Governor also announced that the state government has taken a N2.5 billion Life Insurance cover of N2 million each for 500 frontline medical personnel involved in COVID-19 assignment in addition to the prompt payment of COVID-19 special allowances to qualified cadres.
Apparently disturbed by the increasing refusal of residents to wear face masks in public, which he said could spike community transmission of the disease, Dr. Fayemi revealed that security agencies and the Ministry of Justice have been directed to arrest and prosecute any person caught.
Expatiating on the conditions to be met before public worship resume from July 17 with Jumat service for Muslims and Christian worship in churches from July 18 and 19, Dr. Fayemi said social distancing of six feet must be observed and hand washing as well as use of face masks are compulsory.
The Governor added that maximum capacity for each building should be determined with the six feet social distancing principle, adding that the number must be conspicuously displayed outside the building.
Besides, the Governor explained that a Task Force will go round to assess the level of compliance and issue a Certificate of Readiness before worship centres can reopen, adding that any worship centre that violates the laid down protocols will be shut down and the cleric prosecuted.
Dr. Fayemi disclosed that school resumption from July 20 will be in phases, starting with students in terminal classes – SS3, JSS3 and Primary 6 – to prepare for their exams, while other classes will be gradually absorbed as schools meet all requirements to accommodate them.
He stressed that a Certificate of Readiness showing that a school has adhered to all conditions required for school reopening will be issued to all schools before they can reopen, while government will ensure that water, sanitiser, soap and other facilities are in place.
The Governor stated further that he had directed that all schools be fumigated and kept safe for students before they reopen.
He stated that the ban on large gatherings of more than 20 persons except on approved worship days continues, adding that social, political or business gatherings like parties, burials, meetings, bars, viewing centres, sports meets must not exceed 20 persons and must be in line with COVID-19 protocols.
Dr. Fayemi pointed out that free unhindered movements will continue Monday to Friday from 6am to 8pm, while dusk-to-dawn curfew will be enforced from 8pm to 5:59am seven days a week.
There shall 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.
In a bid to improve citizens’ access to qualitative healthcare, the Governor disclosed that the Ekiti State Health Insurance Scheme will take off on July 1 with over 5,000 citizens already enrolled and the formal flag off scheduled for July 10.
Dr. Fayemi equally disclosed that the upgrade of the state’s primary healthcare facilities has begun with the Primary Health Centre in Okeyinmi, Ado Ekiti as starting point, with the first stage covering nine facilities across some local government areas.
The goal, he said, is to upgrade at least one primary healthcare facility in all the 177 wards.
The Governor added that his administration is also undertaking additional construction work in Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital and Oba Adejugbe Infectious Disease Hospital, both in Ado Ekiti.
According to him, government is also expanding the state medical facilities to be able to respond more quickly to COVID-19 pandemic, while another molecular laboratory is being planned apart from an additional one secured by the Ekiti State University through the Tertiary Education Trust Fund.
The Governor expressed concern that some residents are now avoiding hospitals for treatment of ailments that are not associated with COVID-19 because of the fear that they might be held down or could be infected.
Describing the trend as extremely dangerous, Dr. Fayemi advised the people of the state to patronise qualified health professionals and not engage in self medication.
The Governor revealed that 567 persons have so far been tested with 43 cases recorded.
He said the state has 13 active cases, 28 patients discharged, while two deaths have been recorded.
Dr Fayemi said: “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 quite commendable, the implication of community spread is very grave.
“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.”