Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State has explained why he has not ordered a complete lockdown of the state as is the case in many others.
Speaking in Calabar, the governor said protecting lives without protecting livelihoods of Nigerians will spell doom for the nation after COVID-19 as hunger will be the next deadly virus.
“Some of our brothers and sisters depend on daily work. If you carry blocks for a living, the day you are stopped from going to work there will be no money to feed the children,” he stated.
He said it was for that reason that he was opposed to a total lockdown of the state, and instead to allow people to carry out their businesses once protected with the appropriate nose mask.
“Globally, hunger and hunger-related diseases like kwashiorkor and tuberculosis kill about 8.4million people every year and so there is more pandemic when it comes to hunger.”
“So we will do all we can to curtail the pandemic from spreading to our state and protect lives too but protection of lives without the protection of livelihoods is a complete imbalance.”
“There must be a holy matrimony between protection of lives and protection of livelihoods,” he added.
In the same vein, World Health Organization (WHO) Secretary General, Tedros Adhananom Ghenreyesus has validated Governor Ben Ayade’s stance that social distancing is not practicable under certain conditions.
Lik Gov. Ayade, Tedros Adhananom Ghenreyesus is also of the view that social distancing is at best, an alternative preventive measure against the spread of coronavirus as other public health measures are equally effective.
Some days ago, Governor Ayade, a professor of Microbiology had stirred the hornet’s nest when he declared the observance of social distancing unnecessary where a population is properly protected with appropriate nose masks, which he has made compulsory in his state.
He said observing social distancing presupposes normal atmospheric conditions, which is far from reality given that variables such as wind speed and wind direction are outside anyone’s control.
He ended up implementing the popular “No Mask, No Movement” in Cross River State.
Dr. Ghebreyesus in a series of tweets Monday, validated the governor’s positions on the matter.
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According to him, “many poor people, migrants and refugees live in over-crowded conditions with few resources and little access to health care. Physical distancing is very difficult in such situations. So, other public health measures must be put in place.”
He concluded by saying that “while COVID19 accelerates very fast, it decelerates much more slowly. This is especially concerning for countries with large poor population, where #StayatHome orders and other restrictions used in some high income countries may not be practicable.”