Gov. Godwin Obaseki of Edo has said that schools in the state will remain closed until Feb. 1, as the state grapples with the second wave of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Obaseki stated this at a news conference on Friday in Benin, as most states across the federation gear up to reopen schools on Jan. 18.
”We have decided that schools will not reopen for now; this situation will be reviewed by Feb. 1.
”We will like our own schools to reopen on Feb. 1, depending on the situation at that point in time.
“Between now and that time, we will be going round to make sure that these schools have running water.
“We want to ensure spacing for the children are in place and we want to ensure that they have temperature checks at the entrance of each school.
“Each classroom should not hold more than 30 per cent of the students; all of that is being worked out by the Ministry of Education and the Edo State Universal Basic Education Board (EDOSUBEB).
“Within the next two weeks, we should be able to finalise plans to allow children go back to school.
“In the meantime, we will reactivate EdoBest at home. You will recall that during the first wave, we were able to creat over 9,000 virtual classrooms for these children to learn,” Obaseki said.
The governor expressed hope that the children would not stay at home longer than was expected.
He said that there was the possibility of introducing break after every hour to enable students to go out and get fresh air.
“We will not relocate markets as we did in the first time. We will work with market associations to ensure that we continue fumigation of the markets on an ongoing basis.
“All markets and shops must ensure they have running water, soaps and hand sanitiser at the entrance. We are working on alternative opening days for stores in the markets.
“We will introduce no-face-mask, no-entry policy in every market and store in Edo.
“Anybody found not complying with these protocols will be subjected to community service, no matter how highly placed, and he or she will become an ex convict.
“We have also seen 10 and a half increase in the number of older people who are infected with the virus.
”Research has also shown that more children and youths are infected by this virus at this point in time.
“As at yesterday, we had 46 new cases, bringing the total number to 3,189 confirmed cases,” he stated.
According to him, in the last 46 days, Edo has recorded 493 new cases, 214 recovery and 12 deaths.
He said that the non compliance to COVID-19 safety protocols had been largely responsible to the wide spread during the second wave.
The governor noted that in view of that, 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew had been reactivated in the state, adding that the state had the logistics and human capacity to respond to the pandemic.
He appealed to all worship centers to ensure that children under 12 and the elderly were not allowed to attend services, following the prevalence of the disease.
“Religious gathering should not last for more than one hour. Where there are more than one service, there should be an hour interval to allow for decontamination.
“Event centers should not admit more than 30 per cent of their capacity, while hotels should shut down their swimming pools and restaurant operators should encourage take away,” he said.
Speaking during the news conference, the state Epidemiologist, Dr Greg Oko-Oboh, called on anybody with fever to go to the nearest center for screening.
Also speaking, the Deputy Governor, Mr Philip Shaibu, called on passengers to put on their face masks before boarding vehicles.
He said that failure to do so would attract sanctions to both the drivers and the passengers.