Ondo govt shuts down schools over COVID-19 pandemic

The Governor of Ondo State, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, has ordered the closure of all primary, and secondary schools, as well as all tertiary institutions as a measure to forestall the spread of coronavirus in the state.

He was, however, silent on religious gatherings, and was not categorical on other social activities as earlier suggested by the state's House of Assembly.

In a state wide broadcast on Thursday, the governor said there was no case of death as a result of the virus in the state contrary to rumours making the rounds.

He confirmed that a suspected case of the virus was under investigation.

The closure of schools by the Ondo State government followed similar actions taken by Lagos and Ogun states and a few others in the ensuing anxiety attending the gradual increase in the number of cases of the virus now recorded so far.

Mr Akeredolu noted that Nigeria has not been spared in the global outbreak of COVID-19 which is a highly infectious disease easily transmitted from one person to another.

"The major symptoms of this viral attack are fever, cough, sore throat, sneezing, runny nose and difficulty with breathing," he said. "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, 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 said the government had taken steps to ensure that the health system was ready to manage the situation effectively in collaboration with the federal government and development partners.

"In furtherance of this, we have also directed the closure of all primary and secondary schools as well as tertiary institutions in the state as from Friday 20th, March, 2020 until further notice," the governor said.

"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."

He also said the state government had taken other measures including equipping the state infectious disease hospital as a treatment center for the disease and 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.

Further measures, according to the governor, "would ensure a seamless collaboration with federal government and other development partners to further strengthen the state's capacity to respond effectively to the emergency by setting up a high level inter-ministerial committee to coordinate state's response to the COVID-19 challenge."

"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," he said.

"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," he added.

Earlier on Thursday, the Ondo State House of Assembly directed the state government to immediately shut down public and private schools and also ban religious, political, social and sporting gatherings in the face of the outbreak.

The assembly reached the decision after an emergency briefing at plenary by the Ondo commissioner for health, Wahab Adegbenro.

The Deputy Speaker, Iroju Ogundeji, afterwards moved a motion for the assembly to direct the state government on the shutdown. The motion was seconded by Tomide Akinribido.

The federal government later on Thursday ordered the closure of all schools across the country.

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