By Chimezie Anaso
A Governance and Policy Expert, Mr Oseloka Obaze, has called on the Anambra Government to exercise some restrain in relaxing the COVID-19 lockdown in the state.
Obaze, who made the observation in statement in Awka on Sunday, said such a step was capable of endangering public health in the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Gov. Willie Obiano on Saturday directed that the Coronavirus induced lockdown be relaxed and ordered reopening of Churches and markets for normal activities .
Obiano, who said the only index case in the state and the contact cases had tested negative for COVID-19, said reopening of schools and commencement of civil service would be announced soon.
However, Obaze, who is also a chieftain of People Democratic Party (PDP), feared easing of lockdown could boomerang on the public health of the state.
He said there was no empirical evidence that the state was completely COVID-19 free, adding that the absence of test centres in Anambra and ease with which the virus spread from a carrier to other persons made the new policy an expensive risk.
“I do not routinely comment on policy actions of Anambra however, there is a time to speak up.
“While not privy to the reasons that informed Anambra State authorities relaxing it’s lockdown policy and movement around Anambra, I am extremely concerned that such a precipitate policy action will have dire public health repercussions,
“This is more so since it is not accompanied by aggressive in-state testing.
“State authorities cannot ignore the number of people being infected daily by such unidentified infected persons, neither can Anambra authorities ignore the fact that coronavirus is invisible, nimble, has trans-boundary capacity, and will spread exponentially.
“Anambra State authorities must draw evidence-based lessons from Kano State that went from zero to 147 cases in less than one week, and thus take extreme measures to protect its population,” he stated.
The governance and policy expert said though the lockdown had grave consequence on the economy of households and state at large, easing the lockdown could pose a greater danger.
He said free movement across the communities in the state, gathering of people in churches and markets would engender free transmission of COVID-19 to people of the state by unidentified carriers in spite the closure of borders and wearing of face masks.
“While mindful of the deleterious economic impact of a lockdown on Anambra population and businesses, I am firmly of the view that Anambra State can ill-afford to be blind to the total lack of census of asymptomatic COVID-19 carriers within the state.
“Consequently, Anambra State authorities must be cognisant that allowing even one or two unidentified, untested carriers unfettered access to Anambra’s general population, local communities, markets and churches, will certainly and needlessly precipitate a public health crisis in the days ahead.
“I pray earnestly that I am wrong,” he said.(NAN)