COVID-19: “Lockdown without palliatives will lead to starvation”- Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu

The frontline aspirant of the All Progressives Congress in Edo state, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu has warned that implementing a complete lockdown in Edo state without accompanying state-wide efforts to cater to the needs of the people and provide them with food and care would lead to starvation and create worse problems for the government as it tackles the challenge of COVID-19.

He said this in an interview at KU FM in Benin City on Thursday where he argued for a revised approach in the management of COVID-19 that reflects the realities of Edo state, instead of replicating measures advanced in European countries where the government has a comprehensive database of its people and the resource strength to provide food and other basic needs to everyone in an inclusive and fast manner.

Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu said that although lockdown could help to prevent an introduction of the virus, the measure has run its course in Edo state where confirmed cases have already been recorded. He appealed to the government to consider other measures including an improved testing capacity for quick identification of cases and isolation of infected persons, social distancing to slow spread, and economic interventions targeted at special sectors, instead of shutting down the state’s economy and locking people up in their homes to battle with the unforgiving pangs of hunger.

He said: “COVID-19 started in China and spread quickly to European countries, so a lot of other countries are looking up to these regions of the world to copy their handling of the situation and the total lockdown they implemented. However, that would be problematic for a state like Edo because of our different realities. Without the database of residents and the resources to swiftly provide food and other basic needs to everyone in their respective homes, lockdown in Edo state will only trigger mass starvation of the people and could also lead to hunger-driven opportunistic crimes.”

“Instead of shutting down the whole state without really providing what the people can survive on, I appeal to the state government to consider a partial lockdown and focus resources on supplying food to the people through investments in rural farming, set up of a food bank and special food markets, wider testing capacity across the states to promptly identify infected persons and isolate them, social distancing in markets and other similar areas, and motivation for health workers through investments in their working environment and personal reward.”

Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu also advised the government to intervene in certain sectors badly affected by the situation, including the entertainment scene where entertainers, food vendors, and other similar service providers are put out of job and unable to pool income for their upkeep.

“After providing food, hand sanitizers, and other relief items to thousands of families in Edo state in collaboration with my wife, Prof. Idia Ize-Iyamu, and friends, we have now begun to mass-produce local face masks to further protect our people and to provide a means for tailors in our states to also earn income at this difficult time. I appeal to the government to also make similar investments in the economy by patronizing local service providers in the state and creating safe means for them to get by.”

He urged the government to work with NGOs and other civil society groups in its food distribution
efforts to prevent diversion of the items and ensure that it reaches people in most need of them.

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