Text of State Broadcast by Malam Nasir El-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna State, on the next steps for taking FORWARD the Covid-19 containment efforts in the state, Tuesday 9th June 2020
Dear people of Kaduna State,
- It is fitting and proper that I begin this address by paying tribute to the good people of Kaduna State. Amidst considerable danger and uncertainty created by the arrival of a new virus, the people of our State have in the main understood and supported the firm measures the state government took to protect them from Covid-19. Our people have made immense sacrifices in the last two and half months as containment measures against Covid-19 were implemented. Your government acknowledges the perseverance of the vast majority of our people who have endured inconveniences and several challenges in the period. I urge you to regard it all as part of our contributions to protecting public health and saving lives in the dangerous circumstances created by a new, deadly and highly infectious virus.
- Your government had no option but to take decisive action at the end of March 2020 to enable us to protect our people and save lives. As Covid-19 wreaked havoc across the world, causing disruptions, sickness and death, even in advanced countries and almost overwhelming their health systems, we could not just watch and do nothing. In March 2020, it was clear that the virus was going to spread across the country having landed in Lagos. We had to act to protect people from catching the virus as we prepared our health system to provide treatment and care for persons who get infected.
- Therefore, the Kaduna State Government started raising awareness about the virus and alerting our citizenry to the dangers ahead. We recognised the imperative of collaboration and sought to galvanise a coordinated response by the states in the Northwest and North-Central sub-regions. We were convinced that if the states in the regions worked together, we would collectively improve the chance to save lives. At a meeting in Kaduna on 18th March 2020, North-West governors, together with the Governors of Niger and Kwara States, agreed to close all schools starting from Monday, 23rd March 2020, prohibit large gatherings until further notice and to launch aggressive public health awareness campaigns to encourage citizens to practise personal hygiene, including hand washing.
- The Kaduna State Government followed up the school closures by directing civil servants from Grade Level 14 and below to work from home. We set up the State Taskforce on Covid-19, chaired by our Deputy Governor, Dr. Hadiza Balarabe, with membership drawn from across the executive and legislature. The Taskforce considered all developments and proposed further drastic preventive measures to contain the spread of the virus. On 26th March 2020, the state government accepted the recommendations and invoked the Constitution, the Quarantine Act and the Kaduna State Public Health Law to impose the Quarantine Regulations on the state, for 30 days in the first instance.
- Under the Quarantine Order, movement of persons and vehicles was restricted, except for essential goods and services. Offices, businesses, schools, places of worship, restaurants and event centres were closed down. This was intended to prevent the large gatherings that are known to rapidly spread the virus. We eventually closed down all major markets when it became clear that large gatherings in markets become uncontrollable. We replaced them with temporary neighbourhood markets in our schools and other public facilities. The FG also prohibited interstate travel and closed state boundaries to unauthorised and non-essential traffic.
- On 26th April 2020, government felt compelled by the rising infections in neighbouring states to extend the Quarantine Order for another 30 days. But we also tasked a committee of senior officials to begin planning post-lockdown scenarios for the state. Based on the report of that committee, the extension of the Quarantine Order announced on 26th May 2020 was limited to two weeks along with the gradual reopening of more social and economic sectors of the state.
- As the two-week extension expires today, I wish to tell citizens of Kaduna State that your sacrifices have not been in vain. Your compliance with the Quarantine Order has helped ensured that our state has been spared the hundreds of unexplained deaths recorded in other states in the containment of Covid-19. For this, I thank you and pray Almighty God to bless you, our state and our country.
- Enforcing the Quarantine Order allowed us the needed time to improve the readiness of the health system and prevent it from being overwhelmed by an early wave of huge infections. Our state health system is certainly stronger positioned now than it was three months ago. With the support of the NCDC and our development partners, the State Ministry of Health has enhanced its capacity for robust tracing of contacts, testing of suspected cases and treatment of all infected persons.
- Treatment capacity has been expanded to 150 beds from the initial 16 beds at the infectious disease centre we inherited, which we also upgraded and renovated. In a few days, 70 more beds will become available in two centres across the state. Government retrofitted two hotels into temporary isolation centres and commenced construction of a new 136-bed infectious diseases treatment centre which is expected to be completed by the end of this month. In addition, our team is working to provide 20-30 bed, stand-alone infectious disease treatment building in every General Hospital in our state that has the space to accommodate it.
- Testing capacity has also increased. From having no testing laboratory or centre in March, Kaduna State now has three NCDC-accredited centres. We have received one mobile testing vehicle from USAID which has multiplied our ability to do random testing in communities. Recently, the state government imported 9,800 testing kits for the GeneXpert machines that are already installed in our health facilities, including the Yusuf Dantsoho Hospital, Kaduna. These kits enable us to use the eight GeneXpert machines in government hospitals to test samples collected by our health teams, and they have already been validated. Our goal is to test at least 50,000 residents within the next one month to provide the state government reliable data on Covid-19 infections in the state, apart from treatment of anyone that is infected. In this regard, we are actively searching the world market to procure more test kits.
- As at Monday, 8th June 2020, Kaduna State, the Covid-19 status of Kaduna State is as follows:
i. Tests conducted -2895
ii. Total infections – 363 (12.5% of those tested: 1 out of 😎
iii. Discharges – 210 (58% of those infected have been discharged)
iv. Contacts of infected persons traced- 1447 (8% (111) of them tested positive)
v. Contacts Line-listed- 1147
vi. Contacts Cleared – 626
vii. Contacts Pending – 821 persons are still under follow up
viii. 11 Deaths have been recorded. Two of the fatalities had been admitted in the isolation center and died after their samples were taken. All the others had their samples taken after they died. Seven of the deaths were in patients older than 65. Two were aged above 80. All the old persons we lost presented very late and some had underlying causes such as Diabetes, Hypertension, Bronchitis, and Cancer.
Kaduna State has a very high success rate in the testing and treatment of infected persons.
- So far, Covid-19 infections have been recorded in a total of 47 wards spread across 10 local government areas: Chikun, Giwa, Igabi, Jema’a, Kaduna North, Kaduna South, Makarfi, Sabon-Gari, Soba and Zaria.
74% of the cases are in four local government areas: Kaduna North, Igabi (due to the 67 almajirai), Zaria and Chikun, followed closely by Sabon-Gari and Kaduna South with 14% of cases. Chikun has eight, while Kaduna North and Zaria have seven each of the 47 affected wards.
The highest number of infections has been in the 15-19 age group but this is because of the number of almajirai that tested positive. The 25-29 age group is the second highest infected group because of the tendency to move around and mix a lot.
- The Kaduna State Government commiserates with the families of the fatalities of Covid-19 and wishes the patients under treatment speedy recovery. We will continue to work to protect our people from getting infected and will aggressively trace all contacts and test them and treat those who turn out to be positive.
- Thus far, state government agencies have adapted admirably to the challenges of containing Covid-19. Our healthcare workers have demonstrated the professionalism and potential of the public health system, and I have personally attested to that as a Covid-19 survivor. Regrettably, certain persons seem determined to sully all the goodwill the hard work of our health workers has attracted by the untimely threat of strike action amidst a pandemic. This reckless action is a clear violation of the Hippocratic Oath, the Trade Union (Essential Services) Act and Public Service Rules.
- With regards to the education sector, our team has worked to meet the needs of learners who have had the school term truncated by the imposition of quarantine. Lessons have been delivered on radio and television. Our tertiary institutions are also set to begin delivering lectures online to ensure the impact of the pandemic on education is minimised.
- Markets are significant sources of spread for Covid-19 infections. Accordingly, officials of the Kaduna Markets Development Company have managed the orderly and safe operations of the temporary neighbourhood markets, with proper demarcation of stall space for physical distancing and the provision of canopies for the traders. Government has directed all local government chairmen to replicate this by closing all central markets and setting up several temporary markets in public facilities in their areas.
- Your government recognises that about 60% of economic activities are informal, and that our population has a large percentage of unemployed and underemployed youth. For these reasons, as part of the partial lockdown, the state government took into account the need to support poor and vulnerable persons. These are persons who are unable to go out out daily to earn a living, and therefore are unlikely to be able to easily cope with the loss of livelihoods occasioned by the lockdown. The government therefore decided to provide food and other necessities to support such affected persons. The first round was conducted in nine urban local government areas.
- The weaknesses identified in that round were corrected in the second phase which reached 14 local government areas. The government is planning a third final round of food distribution for all the 23 local government areas. Everybody that works for the Kaduna State Government has so far made two rounds of contributions to the funding of this support from our salaries and allowances.
- The state government has also received donations in cash and kind from many companies, development partners and individuals. We expressed a preference for donations in kind and we have received a variety of support, from food to ambulance to medical equipment. Cash balance in the state Covid-19 account stands at N1.35bn, which will be published, accounted for and audited for transparency and full disclosure. We are grateful to all the donors, including Kaduna State public servants.
- Citizens of Kaduna State, Covid-19 remains a highly infectious and dangerous disease. This virus is not likely to be comprehensively beaten until a vaccine is developed. While we await scientific breakthroughs, we must find ways to ensure public safety while enabling the pursuit of livelihoods. Therefore, more socio-economic sectors of society will be opened up from tomorrow.
- To open up safely and sustainably, every citizen must take the lead in protecting themselves and their families. Personal responsibility is the now the only way FORWARD, and we rely on people to wear facemasks, observe physical distancing, wash hands regularly with soap and water, avoid gatherings of more than 20 persons, stay at home unless absolutely necessary to step and eat foods that help to boost immunity.
- The State Government has done its best to ensure that Covid-19 has not resulted in mass sickness and deaths. We again apologise for the inconvenience suffered by all during the 75 days of partial lockdown. The next step of staying safe while pursuing socio-economic activities is strictly in the hands of each individual.
- While we require individual citizens to practice personal responsibility, the places where they work, worship or shop and the vehicles in which they travel must also protect their health and safety. This requires that all sectors of society understand and discharge their responsibility for safe reopening, including the specific steps they are required to take.
- To promote this wide understanding, our officials undertook consultations with several stakeholders in the last two weeks on the conditions and protocols for safe reopening across sectors. The state government submitted the draft guidelines developed by our officials for debate at the consultation meetings and we have considered the contributions, suggestions and feedback received from the stakeholders in concluding the detailed re-opening protocols being published for each sector.
- We thank the stakeholders for their participation and contributions. We welcome the undertaking by stakeholders to comply with the guidelines, and the government will be holding them to their promise. In fact, any facility or sector that generally violates the guidelines will be closed down under the Quarantine Order No.2 of June 2020 that I will sign today for immediate gazetting.
- My dear people of Kaduna State, I am pleased to proclaim that under the powers vested in me by Section 45 of the Constitution, the Quarantine Act, the Public Health Law f Kaduna State and the Infectious Diseases Regulation issued pursuant to these, the State Government hereby makes the following announcements as Quarantine Order No. 2 of 2020:
A. As from tomorrow, Wednesday, 10 June 2020, the Quarantine Order is amended to permit a significant reopening of the state.
B. Subject to compliance with safe reopening protocols, the following measures will be in place in the first instance until 30th June 2020, subject to amendment, extension or renewal:
i. Restriction of intra-state movement is lifted, subject to a night-time curfew of 8pm to 5am.
ii. Businesses can reopen, subject to the provision of thermometers for temperature checks, sanitizers or handwashing equipment and physical distancing measures within all facilities. Working hours will be 9am to 3pm daily.
iii. Church services are allowed only on Sundays and Mosques are allowed to conduct only Friday Jumat services, for the time being, subject to compliance with the safety stipulations above.
iv. Transport operators must reduce capacity to not more than two passengers per row and not more than 50% of capacity;
v. Supermarkets and providers of personal services such as hair dressing and barbing salons can reopen;
vi. Hotels can fully open, but with their restaurants and bars offering only room service.
vii. Restaurants may all reopen after decontamination, but are still restricted to takeaway services.
viii. Public servants will be summoned back to work in phases to be announced by the Head of Service.
- At this stage of Covid-19 containment, it is still considered unsafe for markets and schools to reopen, and we will keep engaging with the relevant stakeholders on the matter, to determine the appropriate timing and conditions precedent.
- We urge citizens to take responsibility and comply with these measures. This relaxation will be reversed in the event of a spike in Covid-19 infections or unsatisfactory compliance levels with the conditions, and total quarantine reimposed to preserve health and protect lives
- As we further open up Kaduna State, our officials will continue to control state boundaries to reduce unauthorised interstate travel. Within the state, security checkpoints will be allowed only to enforce compliance with the nighttime curfew. During the day, any violations of the adjusted Quarantine Order like failure to wear facemasks etc. will be enforced by Operation Yaki, KASTLEA, the Vigilance Service and our Mobile Courts.
- Covid-19 has exposed several weaknesses in our public service and health systems and that we will do our utmost to remedy. The pandemic provides a unique opportunity to strengthen our public health systems. We are aggressively investing more in health infrastructure and in expanding access to virtual medicine.
- Our citizens, the education sector and the public service require reliable digital infrastructure to enable public servants to do a lot more work remotely. Therefore, we will accelerate investments to close any GSM service gaps, and upgrade and extend the 4G footprint throughout the state.
- We will support our farmers and the business community to take full advantage of fiscal stimulus opportunities embedded in the Federal Government Economic Sustainability Plan to maintain and expand employment
- Major lessons learnt from this pandemic will be incomplete without a resolve to develop a sustainable social safety net for the poor and vulnerable. The continued contribution of public servants’ pay and funds from private donations to purchase food and other palliatives is not sustainable way to support the poorest. We have secured the support of donors to work on developing a viable social safety net as a priority.
- We will continue to implement the policy of repatriating almajirai back to their parents to afford them due care and the right to free education. This is is an important step in complying with our state’s Child Welfare and Protection Law. We do not regard modern education and quranic education as mutually exclusive. A child can get both without being abandoned b their parents, leading to child abuse, mistreatment and an uncertain future.
- Let me use my privileged position of being a Covid-19 survivor to appeal to our citizens aged 50 and above to take due care to avoid getting infected. Covid-19 can kill anybody but it is especially lethal to older people. As we open up, we advise older people to stay home as much as possible, and avoid condolence visits and attending congregational prayers. Older people above 50 years should avoid receiving visitors. If you must receive, please wear a facemask and stay two meters apart from your visitors. Younger people that may be infected but showing no signs of the disease can easily infect older people.
- Fellow citizens, let us protect each other from Covid-19 by observing health guidelines. As we open up, let us make it a safe moment by committing to personal responsibility. Let us honour the sacrifices that have been made to ensure that this opening up supports the pursuit of livelihoods without risking widespread infection, illnesses and death. You have done it for more than ten weeks under partial lockdown. Let us show that we can stay safe in relaxed conditions.
- In conclusion, dear citizens, your government has done all it can to protect you so far. We have been maligned and abused by many that are simply ignorant of the dangers of Covid-19. Others that know better are driven by political considerations, envy and even internal sabotage by persons within our government and massive failure of security agencies. As a government, we are grateful that our Covid-19 related deaths are low, relative to other states. The rest of the journey to stay safe from Covid-19 is now up to you. Every citizen of Kaduna State must now take personal responsibility to be safe and to keep their families safe.
- I thank you once more for your patience, cooperation and understanding. For the umpteenth time, we apologise for the necessary inconvenience that citizens have suffered over the last two and a half months. We do not take your understanding for granted. We will continue to serve you with all our energy and our intellect.
Thank you for listening.
God bless Kaduna State
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.