Following reported cases of flagrant violation of the Covid-19 guidelines in Abia State, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu has threatened to lockdown the state for a second .
Ikpeazu who made the threat while flagging off the massive community sample collection and testing for Covid-19 in the state, warned that unless residents desist from flouting guidelines with respect to social events, he would not hesitate to slam another lockdown on the people of the state within the next 14 days.
According to the Governor who was represented at the Community testing flag-off ceremony by the Chairman of Abia State Inter-ministerial Committee on Covid-19 and Secretary to the State Government, Barr. Chris Ezem, the guidelines provided for 50 persons either at burials or weddings.
But several reports indicate that people hardly abide by the provisions of the guidelines as such ceremonies are usually overcrowded.
“You can see that even with all the guidelines we are rolling out, with all the all the work, with all the radio announcements, yesterday (Sunday), a wedding took place somewhere around Isuikwuato, we had over 500 people at that wedding.
“People go out, they attend public gatherings: you sit at receptions, you sit at burials, you don’t even know the status of the person sitting next to you. This pandemic is real; this virus is everywhere. We are in the stage of community transmission,” the Governor remarked.
“I want to assure you that we are doing all that we can to contain coronavirus in the state. Thus we need your collective support in maintaining those protocols and guidelines.
“We have said that burials anywhere should not exceed more than 50 people. But still you have burials where we have over 100 persons. Same thing applies to weddings. We will watch these activities within the next two weeks, if you don’t continue to adhere to our guidelines, we will shut down and lockdown burials and weddings in Abia State.
“If people don’t maintain the protocols, we will lockdown on burials and weddings and will not reopen it in the next shortest possible time,” he further warned.
“It is wrong for you to stand on the road, you want to enter a Keke (Tricycle) or a mini-bus (Oke Bekee) and you find out that the Keke is already carrying two passengers, and join in to become the third person. Where do you maintain social distancing if you have three people in that Keke; where do you observe social distance if you have more than five passengers in a Mini-bus?,” he queried.
The Governor appealed to traditional leaders and community leaders to ensure that people within their domains obeyed government protocols, making it clear that that all the efforts to rout the Covid-19 pandemic was not government’s responsibility alone.
“Government would continue to do its best but it is our collective responsibility and our collective efforts to ensure that we maintain the minimum protocols and hygiene as we try to combat the rampaging pandemic,” he added.
He said that the essence of the massive community sample collection and testing for Covid-19 in the state was to break the chain of transmission which was now at community transmission stage by identifying infected persons and nursing them back to good health and enjoined the people to turn up en masse and make it a huge success.
During the testing, personnel already trained by state Ministry of Health would identify cases, isolate the positive cases from the population; manage the symptomatic ones back to health as well as trace and monitor their contacts to halt the transmission, particularly in rural communities, the state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Joe Osuji, explained.
Chairman of Umuahia South Transition Committee, Dr. Max Adindu, expressed happiness that the massive community testing would ensure a guaranteed good health status for Abians, adding that such a gesture ”was yet another manifestation of the rare leadership qualities of a responsive and caring Governor.”
Adindu passionately appealed to people of the local government to voluntarily troop out and embrace the exercise.
Highlights of the flag-off ceremony was the collection of samples of many people, notable among them, the Chairman of Umuahia South Traditional Rulers Council, Eze Stephen Ihuoma, and many of his colleagues, who submitted themselves for testing.