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Ayade suspends Calabar carnival over Omicron COVID variant concerns

Ayade suspends Calabar carnival over Omicron COVID variant concerns
November 29
18:54 2021

Ben Ayade, governor of Cross River, has suspended the 2021 edition of the annual Calabar carnival due to the outbreak of Omicron COVID variant and security concerns.

Linus Obogo, deputy chief press secretary to Ayade, disclosed this on Monday in an interview with NAN in Calabar, the state capital.

South Africa had, on November 23, identified the index case of the Omicron variant, and the World Health Organisation (WHO) subsequently designated the new strain as a “variant of concern”, calling on global leaders to take action to contain its spread.

Eric Anderson, the Cross River commissioner for tourism, had said on Sunday that the carnival would hold, but would be restricted to the UJ Esuene sports stadium over COVID concerns.

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Anderson had said the plan was for Ayade to unveil the theme of the carnival on Monday.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said, on Monday, that no case of the Omicron COVID variant has been detected in Nigeria yet.

Obogo, however, said it was unanimously agreed by stakeholders for the carnival to be suspended so as not to risk the health of residents.

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He said the decision to suspend the annual festival was reached at a meeting with the governor, the state executive council members and other stakeholders involved in planning the carnival.

Obogo also said that there are security reports that the event may be hijacked by hoodlums.

Ayade was quoted as saying he would not “compromise the lives and safety of the citizens for the fleeting excitement of the carnival”.

“The gathering was to unveil the theme of this year’s carnival but based on the emergence of the new variant called Omicron and the advice by health experts that it kills faster than other variants, the governor then put it before the stakeholders and it was unanimously agreed that the carnival be suspended,” Obogo said.

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“The carnival band leaders and other stakeholders agreed that for the purpose of public health and safety, the carnival be suspended.

“Also, there is an emerging security report which indicates that the event may be taken over by some hoodlums.

“To avoid all of these from happening, it was advised that the carnival be suspended so that people are not caught unaware.”

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