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The Benue State government on Wednesday extended the dusk-to-dawn curfew it imposed on the state for two weeks.

Governor Samuel Ortom said this while briefing journalists after the Expanded Executive Council Meeting and the State Action Committee on COVID-19.

The governor said that due to the rising cases of COVID-19 in the country, the state had decided to extend the curfew it imposed in the state to two weeks.

“The curfew is from 7:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. It is extended because of the rising cases of the pandemic in some states. Our people travel to these states and this is a big problem,” he said.

He, however, noted that all the staff of the Grace Cottage Hospital, Makurdi, where the index case in the state was first admitted, were isolated for 14 days after which their vital signs were taken to Abuja for tests and they all tested negative.

“This is because they adhered strictly to the preventive aspects of the disease while handling her case. So, there is no cause for alarm,” he said.

Mr Ortom also said that COVID-19 had a negative toll on the economy as such, the state government had reviewed its 2020 budget of N195 billion to N119 billion owing to the harsh economic situation occasioned by COVID-19.

The governor said the decision became necessary due to the economic challenges caused by COVID-19.

He said the decision for the review would soon be transmitted to the State Assembly for affirmation.

He maintained that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had projected that the 2020 recession would be worse than that of 2016.

“It is in view of this reason among others that the decision for the review was arrived at.

“IMF further said that the 2016 recession was 1.5 per cent while it projected 2020 recession to be 3.4 per cent. It has even doubled that of 2016,’’ the governor said.

According to him, we have to take advantage of our arable land by venturing into massive cultivation of crops.

“There should be no empty land. Even your backyards should be cultivated. Do not leave any land empty.

“We have to work very hard to have enough food. This is not just for Benue indigenes but for everyone who resides in the state.

“I want all and sundry to add value to agriculture. We have formed a committee to champion this cause and it will be headed by me.

“The state government will support massive agricultural activities in the state. The government will clear large portions of land for enhanced agricultural production,” he said. (NAN)

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