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Few hours after a suspected case of Coronavirus in Ondo State, the State Government, on Thursday, announced the closure of all public and private schools in the state, effective from Friday, March 20, 2020, until further notice.

The state governor, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, who gave this order during a state broadcast, said the closure of schools became necessary in order to prevent teachers and their pupils from contracting the deadly disease in the state.

Akeredolu who also appealed to the people of the state to avoid staying in overcrowded areas, avoid any unnecessary travels outside the state, also urged them “to obey and observe the simple, time tested and internationally accepted precautionary measures to fight this debilitating virus.”

Akeredolu said: “We have also directed the closure of all primary and secondary schools as well tertiary institutions in the state as from Friday, March 20, 2020 until further notice.

“This measure is to harvest our children into the safety net for proper monitoring and care. There is no doubt that this global pandemic poses a real challenge to all nations, yet if we all collaborate effectively, we will overcome it successfully.

“One major advantage that our state has is the experience and expertise we have developed over the years from our fight against Lassa fever and other infections.

“We believe this will place us in good stead at this critical period. It is therefore important for members of the public to remain calm, avoid panic and spreading of inaccurate information.

“We urge us all to fully embrace the handwashing exercise at every interval of our daily activities. We must avoid handshaking and unnecessary social embrace.

“We must reduce or where possible, postpone, until further notice, ceremonies and other social gatherings. We urge us to avoid staying in overcrowded areas and avoid any unnecessary travels outside the state.”

Speaking on the measures put in place by his administration to curtail the virus, he said “on our part, this administration had taken the following steps to ensure that the health system is ready to manage the situation effectively in collaboration with the Federal Government and our development partners. These steps include; “Equipping the state infectious disease hospital as a treatment centre for the disease.

“Upgrading the state disease surveillance network to be able to identify cases and ensure proper community surveillance Roll out a sustained media campaign on the COVID-19 infection.

“Ensure a seamless collaboration with the Federal Government and other development partners. To further strengthen our capacity to respond effectively to this emergency, we have set up a high-level inter-ministerial committee to coordinate the state’s response to the COVID-19 challenge.

“The committee which is chaired by the hon commissioner for health has members cutting across relevant institutions and MDAS. The main term of reference of this committee is to activate, coordinate and drive the state response protocols.

“The committee will engage all stakeholders and explore all means possible to curtail the threat of COVID-19.”

He tasked the people of the state to always lookout for the symptoms of the disease and report promptly at the appropriate quarters.

He said: “The major symptoms of this viral attack are fever, cough, sore throat, sneezing, runny nose and difficulty with breathing. Any individual with these symptoms especially those who have recently travelled to areas where there is a serious outbreak should embark on self-isolation for a minimum of 14 days.

“Such individuals should also in the interest of our corporate existence, a report in any of our healthcare facilities nearest to them or call any of our emergency lines that will be released for assistance if they develop any of the symptoms.”

He advised on the importance of keeping a neat environment saying; “It is important we engage in improved self and family hygiene as well as mobilise our community service providers including traders, drivers, butchers, bank workers, health workers to make use of face mask to cover the mouth and the nose when engaging in their daily activities.

“To ensure that all measures stated earlier are totally successful, we hereby task our community leaders, political leaders, traditional rulers, religious leaders, heads of educational institutions, Nigerian medical association, association of general medical practitioners and other health workers, leaders of traders association, women groups, youth groups, transport unions and others to urgently commence a deliberate and comprehensive mobilization of their members to observe these precautionary measures.

“Please let us take these measures seriously so as to wage the war against coronavirus together and win.”

He, however, said “I wish to stress that no death has been recorded in Ondo State on account of coronavirus so far. The situation as at today is that a suspected case is under intense observation and comprehensive test.

“This process of surveillance and management currently ongoing in this isolated case is part of the standard procedure in dealing with infectious disease outbreaks. We urge us to ignore the unauthorized and unconfirmed statements.

“Every epoch in history comes with its own challenges. We believe this coronavirus pandemic is another test of our resolve to preserve our existence, we will win by the grace of almighty god.

He assured the people of the state that “the government will do everything and all things in its power, knowledge and capability to protect and preserve our well-being. It is our duty and commitment to ensure that Ondo State people live a healthy and fulfilled life.”

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