Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, on Monday, placed a ban on religious services, weddings, parties, burial ceremonies and other social gatherings of more than 30 people in the state.

Makinde, in a state broadcast on the Covid-19 pandemic in the state, said that the decision was taken as part of preventive measures to curb the spread of Coronavirus in the state.

He added that the state had activated the Disease Surveillance and Notification System Officers in the 33 Local Government Areas and the 35 Local Council Development Areas in the state.

Below is the broadcast message in full:

My dear good people of Oyo State,

On Saturday, 21st March 2020, the first case of the novel Coronavirus Disease was confirmed in Oyo State.

This new development calls for stepping up even further, the measures that our administration is taking to prevent, contain and control the spread of this illness.

This is the time to come together as a people to fight a common enemy, COVID-19, also known as Coronavirus.

Since the identification of the Ekiti case on the 18th of March, 2020, the Oyo State Government has ramped up its preparedness for any possible outbreak of the pandemic. We set up a COVID-19 Task Force which I am heading. We have activated the Disease Surveillance and Notification System Officers in the 33 Local Government Areas and the 35 Local Council Development Areas.

We are collaborating with the College of Medicine to set up two Diagnostic Centres at the University College Hospital, Ibadan which will begin operations by the end of the week. Both are awaiting the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control’s validation. We are also awaiting reagents for testing which have been ordered.

We have also set up an additional isolation center by redesigning the Maternal and Health Centre at Olodo as the Oyo State Infectious Disease Centre with a capacity for over 100 cases. Rehabilitation of the isolation center is ongoing.

As a result of the newly designated isolation center at Olodo, we have now reduced the previous five isolation centers to three. They are:

Ten-bed isolation center at Jericho Chest Hospital, Ibadan

Four-bed isolation center at University College Hospital, Ibadan

Four-bed isolation center at LAUTECH Teaching Hospital, Ogbomoso

We have purchased and are presently refitting two dedicated ambulances for conveying critical cases to the isolation centers, while emergency personal protective gear have been provided for health workers with more already ordered.

Also, the Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) has been set up and is now operational with an Incidence Manager, Dr. Taiwo Ladipo of the Ministry of Health. In addition, a five-member committee of experts has been approved to act as a sub-committee for the EOC. We have provided numbers to call in case of emergencies.

I have already directed that all public and private schools in Oyo State should be closed until after Easter. The ongoing workers’ verification exercise has been suspended. The Free Health Mission has also been suspended.

All returning expatriate staffers in the state are presented in isolation and are being monitored.

However, with the confirmation of the first case and a clear understanding of how this disease can be transmitted, it cannot remain business as usual. We have postponed the Nigerian Mining and Geosciences Summit, indefinitely. We have also postponed the Agribusiness Summit, indefinitely.

Therefore, I am obligated to place a ban on gatherings such as religious services, weddings, parties, burial ceremonies and so on, gatherings should be limited to 30 persons or less. Nightclubs will have to remain closed. These measures will be reviewed in two weeks.

I want to make it clear that I understand how this pandemic will affect us socially, economically and spiritually, but these are the sacrifices we need to make to preserve and protect our loved ones.

Remember, some people among us can be asymptomatic. They can be carriers of the virus without showing any physical symptoms. This is why proper hygienic practices, social distancing and staying at home are very important.

In times of anxiety, people want to come together physically and draw strength from the presence of others, but the advice on how to contain this virus is that we should do the exact opposite.

This disease, this virus is disrupting our lives in ways that we never imagined any disease would. But we can conquer it. We have seen the number of new cases drop in other places around the world and we have to copy all they did, as far as our local circumstances can permit, to keep the numbers here in manageable proportions.

Again, I enjoin everyone to work with us and do everything in their power to practice social distancing. With commitment and the grace of God, we shall conquer this.

God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

God bless Oyo State.

Seyi Makinde

Executive Governor of Oyo State