COVID-19: Abia Reinstates Ban on Public Gatherings, others
Abia State Government has reinstated the ban on public gatherings, and compulsory wearing of facemasks in public places as the second wave of COVID-19 takes its toll on Nigeria.
Following this, the state is set to map out a day in the coming days to observe Abia COVID-19 Awareness Day with the purpose of laying emphasis on the pandemic and the need to ensure compliance to the rules and protocols to curtail the spread of the virus.
This will see critical stakeholders and Abians on the streets of the State helping to lay emphasis on the need to observe the COVID-19 protocols.
The Chairman of the State Inter-Ministerial Committee on COVID-19 and Secretary to the State Government, Barr Chris Ezem made the revelation today at a meeting with Abia Traditional Rulers Council, religious leaders, security agencies and some select stakeholders in the state at Michael Okpara Auditorium, Umuahia.
The SSG at the meeting said the second wave of COVID-19 cannot be taken for granted as the records from NCDC keeps getting more and more frightening as the days go by noting that the lives of Abians are more sacred than any other thing and deserves every necessary step taken to protect them.
He further revealed that Abia is returning to status quo with regard to initial measures taken to contain the spread of the virus during the first wave and warned that non compliance could lead to total lockdown.
On his part, the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Joe Osuji revealed that the first nine months of the pandemic had Abia Record 1015 positive cases, while it has recorded over 300 cases between January and now, noting that this record calls for serious actions.
The Commissioner then restated his call for collective action against the virus.
The State Epidemiologist, Peace Nwogwugwu and former Chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association, Dr Caroline Iwuoha decried the high level of doubt about the reality of the virus among Abians and explained that simple personal hygiene, frequent wearing of facemasks, and social distancing are good preventive measures against the virus, revealing that most cases recorded are as a result of ignorance and fear among the people and called for frequent testing and contact tracing.
The Commissioner for Information, Chief John Okiyi Kalu who frowned at the attitude of the people towards observing Covid-19 protocols applauded security agencies, religious bodies and traditional rulers for their efforts during the first wave and said the second wave requires even more action.
Kalu appealed to religious bodies to ensure compliance through the provision of hand washing materials as well as sanitizers for their members.
To this end, Government and the stakeholders resolved as follows:
- That all churches, business centres and eateries are expected to boldly have an inscription “NO FACEMASK, NO ENTRY” at the entrance of their buildings and programme venues
Wearing of facemask is compulsory while church worship activities must end by 2pm.
- All market leadership must provide “NO FACEMASK, NO ENTRY”, at the entrance of all markets and ensure total compliance with the advised protocols.
- All Transport regulations remain as provided earlier. Tricycle operators known as Keke must not carry more than 2 persons at any given time. The riders must remember that Government has reviewed their fees downwards because they are required to carry only two passengers on any journey, while mini buses will carry only four passengers and usual buses, nine.
It is compulsory that everyone in such commercial vehicles must put on their facemasks including the drivers.
- Existing regulations as they affect eateries, including the “NO FACEMASK, NO ENTRY” policy, also affect the hospitality industry i.e hotels.
All staff of such business concerns must wear facemasks while running water/soap with alcohol based hand sanitizers must be provided at the entrance and within the facility for use by anyone coming into the building.
As part of measures to ensure compliance, Government officials will pay unscheduled visits to these places and any business concern that defaults will be closed down and a fine of N100,000 imposed which must be paid before it will be reopened.
- Weddings and burials will go back to the initial protocols of not more than 50 persons in attendance.
Traditional Rulers of all communities in conjunction with Local Government Chairmen are to set up taskforce to monitor burials and weddings. Such taskforce has the authority of the state to stop any wedding or burial that contravenes the Covid-19 protocols.
“We cannot afford to lose lives because of non compliance to simple rules as the second wave of the virus has graver health and life threatening implications than the first one”, said Barr Ezem.
He further stated that Government urges everyone to cooperate with the committee to ensure that the guidelines are followed without any encumberances.
- Every Ministry Department, Agencies (MDAs) and parastatals are to ensure that the “NO FACEMASK, NO ENTRY” inscription is placed at every office entrances. They must also provide running water and soap or alcohol based hand sanitizers.
- All private and public schools are to ensure compliance with COVID-19 protocols as earlier established. Well meaning Abians can also help government and other public institutions with the provision of facemasks and other needed items for pupils and students to help fight the pandemic.
- Compulsory wearing of facemasks is now in place. Once anyone contravenes the law, the person will pay a fine of N5,000. The mobile courts will be in place to try defaulters.
- Abia COVID-19 Day will be launched soonest. It will begin at the Local Government to the state level. All Abians are expected to come out wearing their facemasks on the streets of Abia as a way of showing solidarity with government in its efforts to protect the citizens from the pandemic
- Community testing and sample collection is ongoing in all the 17 Local Government Areas.
The state Government urged all traditional institutions and religious bodies to encourage their members to go for testing, know their status as the collection and testing is free.
According to Ezem, medical teams at designated isolation and treatment centers are operating 24 hours daily and are ready to nurse infected persons back to good health.