Social distancing is one of the measures government and medical experts say will help to contain the further spread of the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic. To what extent have residents of Enugu complied with this rule?
Radio Nigeria visited some banks and markets in Enugu to ascertain the level of compliance. According to World Health Organisation, WHO and the National Centre for Disease Control NCDC social distancing also called physical distancing means keeping space between yourself and other people outside of your home by staying at least between three and six feet or one and two metres from them.
The reason is that when someone coughs or sneezes the person may produce liquid droplets from the nose or mouth, which may contain virus.
And if one is close, they can breathe in the droplets including COVID-19, if the person coughing has the disease. Just like most states and the federal government, Enugu State suspended marriage, burial and traditional ceremonies, banned activities at public worship centres, closed schools, government offices and markets, as part of social distancing measures.
However, essential service providers, alongside food and drug outlets were allowed to operate with a warning to maintain physical distancing.
But Radio Nigeria observed that the social distancing objective has been defeated at banks and markets.
For example, most banks in Enugu metropolis closed some of their branches and opened a few of them for partial services, thereby making their customers to cluster at the gates, struggling for attention.
Some of them who refused to be recorded told Radio Nigeria that “even whatever they are protecting us from, we can easily contract it from this kind of stand out.
“Look at that line, is there any social distancing here? If anybody is carrying COVID-19, the person will easily spread it here.
“I also don’t think it is wise keeping us here because it is crowded out here, they are doing this for social distancing but here at the gate, we are crowded, so it is the same thing, I don’t think the aim is achieved.”
The scenario is even worse at the food markets, including Garriki, Emene, Abakpa, mayor, Old Artisan, Aria and Kenyatta markets as expressed by some people who came to make purchases.
“If you look at the market now, you will see that many of them now don’t obey government’s social distancing directive because it is very difficult for them.
“As far as the market is going on, people must cluster. The only alternative is to dismiss them; some of them don’t believe that there is anything like Coronavirus.
“That social distancing cannot work because these people you see now, they fight to feed themselves and you can’t come and force them to obey social distancing,” they maintained.
Notwithstanding that the Akwata section of Ogbete market had been relocated to Akwuke community, many food stuff sellers have refused to leave the area as they now operate in clusters at Mgbemene axis causing vehicular traffic on the narrow road.
Some people who spoke to Radio Nigeria appealed to the Enugu State Government to cause its COVID-19 Task Force to create order and social distancing in the markets and banks as a stitch in time saves nine.