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Obaseki, Diri test negative as motorists seek incentives for social distancing

By Michael Egbejule (Benin City), Julius Osahon (Yenagoa) with agency reports
27 March 2020   |   4:07 am
Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, and his Bayelsa counterpart, Douye Diri, yesterday tested negative for Coronavirus but remained in self-isolation.

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Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, and his Bayelsa counterpart, Douye Diri, yesterday tested negative for Coronavirus but remained in self-isolation.

In a statement, his Special Adviser on Media and Communication Strategy, Crusoe Osagie, said the result was that of the rapid diagnostic test, while the governor awaits the outcome of the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) analysis.

In another press release, Diri’s acting Chief Press Secretary, Daniel Alabrah, said the test result was obtained yesterday from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC)-accredited laboratory at the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital in Edo State.

“The result showed that Governor Douye Diri had “no evidence of COVID-19 infection,” he said.

Officials of the epidemiology unit of the Ministry of Health led by the State Epidemiologist, Ifiemi Iwuji, had on Wednesday conducted the test and sent the samples to the medical institution.

Besides, the Bayelsa government ordered civil servants on Grade Levels 1-12 to stay at home for two weeks effective yesterday.

The Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Dr. Inodu Apoku, added that all social activities had equally been suspended for the same period.

Osagie added: “I can confirm that the governor tested negative for Coronavirus when he ran the rapid diagnostic test for the virus. However, we are currently awaiting the result of the more conclusive PCR test.”

“In the meantime, the governor has decided to continue to work in self-isolation and he is asymptomatic.”

In a related development, some motorists in Benin City have demanded for incentives from the state government to enforce its social distancing directive.

In separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) yesterday, the transporters said they could not alone bear the cost of carrying fewer passengers as ordered by the governor as part of measures to contain the spread of the disease.

A respondent, Abu Yinusa, who plies Benin-Ekpoma-Auchi route, said he would rather stop work than carry out the directive, insisting that government could not just issue directive without consulting them.

Another motorist, who uses same road and simply identifies himself as Ebo, described the instruction as a “tall order” that would not work.

Similarly, Arewa Dan submitted that the threat of sanction for defaulters would not help but, rather, suggested that the governor should provide incentives as agreed by his colleagues.

Obaseki, in a bid to protect the people and stop the spread of the novel scourge, had ordered social distancing of not more than 50 persons in a gathering.

He also reduced the number further to 20 persons barely a day after the initial pronouncement and ordered the closure of markets across the state with the exception of those selling foodstuff and medicine.

However, three days after the directive, motorists in the capital city, especially those plying intra-city routes, still carry the usual 15 passengers per bus.

Besides, residents have urged the Obaseki administration to regulate the sales of facemasks, hand gloves and hand sanitisers.

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