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Covid-19: We need food, not facemasks

Listeners to The Daily Report programme on radio have responded to the announcement by the Lagos State government that Lagosians may be mandated to wear face masks from next week.

“There have been questions about whether the state government is planning to introduce a face-mask wearing policy,” governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu said during a briefing at the State House on Monday 20 April. “Our simple answer is that it may be compulsory to wear one in public places from next week.”

He added that the government had already commissioned local production of the masks “in large quantities in a way that will suit our environment and pocket friendly.”

The masks, he said, were a must for health workers on the frontlines of the fight to curb the spread of Covid-19 and residents should not go panic buying.

But reacting to the statement, listeners argued that it was impossible to enforce the new directive when most of the population have no food to eat.

“The government must be prepared to give out the masks door to door,” Oluwatosin, resident in Ikorodu, said while calling into the programme. “If they cannot give us food, then they must be able to give us the masks for free.”

Calling from the Mafoluku area, Okangbelina said he doesn’t have an idea where to get the masks if it became must, neither did he have the money to buy it.

“I hope they have made adequate arrangements to reach everybody with the masks,” wondered Israel, who called in from Agege. “And I hope they have prepared a large space for all the people that they will arrest for not wearing it.”

Another caller said: “We can all see how insensitive our government is. How do you expect someone who can barely feed himself spend the little they have on masks?”

Barrister Peter Okoh, who lives in Maryland, cautioned the government not to pass itself off as being at war with the same people they are constitutionally empowered to govern. “Let’s not let things get to a point where people begin to disobey the law, because they have been pushed to the wall.”

In his address, Sanwo-Olu revealed that findings by the government showed that the disease was now being spread through community interactions.

 “The most appropriate response from us as a government is to tell residents not to panic, but to strengthen our resolve to continue to obey all directives around physical distancing, respiratory hygiene and staying at home.”

Addressing that, Ambrose — who lives in Mowe — said the social distancing guideline is not being followed in the area.

“The market is packed with traders who see the current situation as an opportunity to make quick sales. This is really not their fault; the uneducated people have not been properly briefed about the dos and don’ts of Covid-19. There is a need for more orientation is the surburbs.”

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