In the last four months, humanity has lost close to 300,000 lives to an enemy which carries no physical weapon. We have all seen that this enemy has no interest in bounties of war. The only interest of this enemy of humanity seems to have is to turn children into orphans; turn women into widows; turn men into widowers; and make parents, childless. Presently, our common humanity is still battling to save the lives of almost 4million people. I pray this people receive the same grace and mercy of the over 1million that have recovered from COVID-19.
In our dear Ogun State, we thank God that that we have continued to receive His grace. But the fact is that we are recording an astronomical increase in the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19. A number which was single digit for almost three weeks before the lockdown, has suddenly jumped to 3- digits within days, even with the lockdown and the window for relaxation. In the last one week, the number of confirmed cases in our dear Ogun State has risen to more than double. As at Thursday, 7th May, 2020, we had 100 confirmed cases of Covid- 19 in Ogun State. 20 of them have been discharged to re-join their respective families and restart normal life. Unfortunately, we have recorded a total of 2 deaths. This leaves us with 78 active cases who are currently receiving efficient treatment at our treatment centers. As usual, we hope and pray that they will also be discharged in due course.
Once again, I want to reassure our people that there is no reason for panic. As your Government, we will continue to do what is right, fair and proper for the benefit of all the people of our dear Ogun State. We have continued to ensure that we increase our pace and widen the coverage of our testing process. As at today, we have screened over 10,000 people and tested over 700. In addition to that, we have intensified our contact tracing capacity and have traced over 551 contacts of the COVID-19 positive patients. We are doing this to detect and treat people who are already infected rather than leaving them undetected which will be more detrimental because this will increase community transmission.
My dear people of Ogun State, while I am not a prophet of doom, I will rather err on the side of responsibility. Reports reaching us have shown that many of our people are showing utter disregard for the precautionary guidelines, international best practices and safety measures rolled out, especially, during the window of relaxation of the lockdown. We have heard and seen the havoc that COVID-19 continues to wreck in other lands. Let us learn from these experiences. While we appreciate that medical scientists are working frantically to develop a vaccine and cure for COVID-19 – and our traditional medicine practitioners also said they are working on possible solutions – we must also know that the solutions may still take a couple of months to materialise. Before that time, our fate as a people is in our hands. Thank God, the virus has identifiable weaknesses. All we need to do is to ensure physical and personal hygiene, cleanliness and physical distancing.
Let me state that we appreciate that the cost of not easing the lockdown. It all boils down to the debate of welfare over wellbeing, between life and livelihood. While it will be great to have a thriving economy, we also realize that humans are the main beneficiaries of thriving economies. The question is, how much is a human life worth to us? This is not a popularity contest. The fact is that the economy can only run if there are humans to run it. And, when human lives are involved, we have chosen human lives over and above other considerations.
We should always remember that we are the closest in proximity to Lagos, the epi-centre of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country. It is not a matter to be taken lightly. As the number of positive cases in Lagos increases, we, in Ogun State, must be concerned about possible spill over, particularly as our people continue to travel across state lines, despite warnings and the ban on interstate travels.
You, the entire people of Ogun State, have not elected me to make easy decisions. And tough decisions, we have to make. Now, to preserve the lives of our people, we are persuaded to extend the current modified lockdown, which has been slightly eased, for another two weeks alongside the current guidelines. This will be reviewed, as usual, on a weekly basis.
Windows of relaxation will continue to be available on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from 7.00am to 5.00pm on each day of the window of relaxation.
The daily curfew and ban on non-essential of inter-State travel as directed by Mr. President still stand.
Wearing of a face mask is mandatory. It is important to note that we have provided, and continue to provide, facemasks to public servants, groups and associations. However, government alone cannot provide facemasks to all. Individuals that have a need to go out have personal responsibility to procure and use facemasks in public, as the enforcement will continue to be strengthened with full weight of law meted out to violators.
All other physical distancing measures as announced last week remain in in force.
We appreciate the need to balance public health and safety against economic activity. Nonetheless, whilst we intensify sensitization and moral-suasion, our security agencies in Ogun State have been duly briefed and empowered to do the needful to assist the heroic efforts of health and other frontline workers to flatten the curve. We have expanded the COVID-19 Enforcement Task Force to the 3 Senatorial Districts and 20 LGAs to strengthen enforcement across the state. In this regard, security agencies, particularly the Divisional Police Officers (DPOs) are now members of the Task Force in their respective divisions. Furthermore, towards ensuring strict adherence to these measures, our mobile courts have been galvanized to try any erring person irrespective of the class or creed. I must also state that more stringent measures will be taken if we observe that our people continue to show disregard for the precautionary measures that our medical experts have stated for the prevention and non-transmission of COVID-19. We cannot continue to put the lives of others at risk and our lives in collective jeopardy because some people simply throw caution to the winds.
In addition, we have also noted the unpatriotic acts of some individuals who try to breach the ban on inter-State travel by smuggling people across the inter-State borders in trucks conveying essential items. Let me state unequivocally that we will not tolerate any further breach on the ban of inter-State travel. Anybody found culpable will be treated for committing a crime against Ogun State and visited with the full weight of the law. As part of our community sensitization for the full and strict implementation of this ban, we have continued to engage the various non-Ogun State tribal community leaders through the office of the Special Assistants on non-indigene Relations. We have also charged our Paramount rulers and our various Baales, especially at the border communities to report any suspected movement of people across our dear State borders. It is pertinent to note that the governors have also resolved that violators of ban on interstate travels should be promptly apprehended and sent back in the same vehicles that brought them to their state of origin. To be fore warned, is to be fore armed.
As your Government, we will continue to ensure that we do all that is humanly possible to protect the lives and property of all the people of Ogun State. In the case of COVID-19, especially, we have continued to put in place adequate facilities towards ensuring we win the war against this enemy of humanity. In the last one week, we have added another Treatment and Isolation Center with 65 bed spaces in Abeokuta here. This facility is separate from and in addition to the 70 bed Treatment Centre at the newly renovated Infectious Diseases Hospital in Iberekodo Abeokuta, thus bringing the combined total bed spaces for treatment of COVID-19 patients in Ogun State to over 300. Let me also appreciate, once again, all Ogun State healthcare workers for their understanding and partnership with government, particularly in this trying times. As a responsible Administration, we have not taken your commitment and sacrifice for granted. Indeed, just a while ago, today, I met with representatives of our various healthcare workers and reassured them of the unwavering commitment of this Administration to their welfare and provision of tools to facilitate the performance of their sacred duties of healthcare delivery. I extend my sincere appreciation to other frontline officers; and all the various security agencies, for their continued devotion, resilience and patriotism. You have continued to put your lives on the line to protect the rest of us. We appreciate you and we pray that God will continue to protect you in the line of duty to humanity.
In addition, I once again express our heartfelt gratitude to all individuals and organizations who have continued to partner with us in the fight of the survival of humanity. On behalf of the Government and people of Ogun State, I appreciate Rt. Honourable Titi Oseni-Gomez for making available her Event Center in Abeokuta for the new and additional Isolation Centre at Abeokuta. These gestures and others have further strengthened our capacity in the fight against COVID-19, in particular, and improving on our healthcare efficiency and effectiveness, in general. By these various partnerships, we are more confident of the successful implementation of our “Building our Future Together” Agenda. Together, we will defeat Covid-19 and humanity will move on stronger.
At this point, it is also important that I state that the second phase of the distribution of our palliative packages is ongoing. The reports indicate a remarkable improvement in the distribution mechanism as well as cooperation of our people in ensuring that the items reach the targeted beneficiaries in a seamless manner. We will continue to make life more abundant for our people at all times.
Let me also state that it is important that we all restrain from spreading fake and malicious information directed at deliberately misinforming the people and undermining the efforts our healthcare workers. These unpatriotic acts will only heightenthe already tense environment and cause unnecessary panic amongst the populace. At this point in the history of our nation, we all owe it a duty to ensure that we all contribute our quotas to the development of humanity. Together, we will all win the war against this common enemy of humanity.
As I end this address, I once again, I congratulate our Muslim brothers and sisters on the ongoing observation of the Ramadan fast. We pray that God will accept our worship; forgive our sins; and look down on humanity with His mercies.