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Benue Lawmakers Pass Infectious Diseases Bill

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Benue House of Assembly on Thursday passed the Benue State Highly Infectious Diseases (Emergency, Prevention, and Management) Bill, 2020.

This followed a clause by clause consideration of the bill in the committee of the whole chaired by the Deputy Speaker, Mr Christopher Adaji, during plenary.

The Chairman, House Committee on Health and Human Services, Mr Joseph Okponya, led the debate on the bill.

He explained that the ability to identify and respond to outbreaks promptly and thereby limiting their impact rest on the availability and implementation of appropriate laws.

“The import of this bill is to prevent and contain the spread of highly infectious diseases such as coronavirus which constitutes a serious and imminent threat to the public health of the people of Benue State.

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“The bill issues regulations and guidelines to residents of the state whose lives are threatened daily by the deadly pandemic and inform them of the necessity of screening, testing, and isolation.

“It equally encapsulates restriction of movements of people, events, gatherings, and commercial activities as well as prohibits hoarding of foodstuffs, drugs, and other essential supplies.

“Furthermore, the bill imposes restrictions on transportation, storage, and disposal of COVID-19 victims and cautions against the transmission and spread of false information regarding the pandemic.

“It also aims at empowering and providing legal backing to the initiatives, activities and efforts of the Chief Executive Officer of the state, which is the Governor as well as the frontline health workers and practitioners that are directly involved in combating infectious diseases,” Okponya explained.

He said the bill, when assented to by the governor, would empower the state governor to direct the restriction of movements within, into, or out of the local health area, particularly, the movement of persons, vehicles and other means of transportation.

After various contributions from members in favour of the bill, Adaji invited the clerk of the House, Mr Terese Agena, to read it for the third time.

(NAN)

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