The government of Abia State says it shall implement some public measures in its bid to shield the population from the effects of the coronavirus scourge.
State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, on Tuesday, approved the implementation of the measures proposed by the Abia state inter-ministerial committee on Coronavirus. The measures include the closing of all public and private primary and secondary schools in the state on or before Friday, 27th March, 2020. As was also recommended by the inter-ministerial committee, Ikpeazu, who recently returned from the United States in the heat of the virus’ spread, equally approved that in the interim, the state Ministry of Education in conjunction with Ministry of health should oversee an expedited distribution of hand washing materials and sanitizers to schools across Abia State. Private schools are expected to provide similar items in their schools or risk immediate closure.
Ikpeazu further ordered market associations in the state are to ensure that members provided running water and sanitizers for customers and traders in their shops within 48 hours or risk immediate closure as operators of abattoirs in the state are also to comply with this directive or risk immediate closure.
“All residents of the state are strongly advised to practice social distancing by sitting/standing a minimum of 1.5m apart while discussing with each other, maintain good hygiene practices and general environmental awareness.”
The government also said it had placed minimal ban on burial, wedding and other ceremonies, for the next 4 weeks, which attendance should not exceed 30 persons who must ensure that they sit/stand at least 1.5m apart from each other. Security agents have been briefed to ensure full enforcement.
Also, religious worship centres have been ordered to ensure that for the next 4 weeks not more than 50 persons attend any of their worship streams and programmes with a minimum sitting or standing distance of 1.5m apart from each other.
The government further directed that, “Henceforth, all tricycles (Keke) operators in the state should carry only a maximum of 2 passengers per time and they must sit at the back with only the rider in front.
“Mini buses popularly called “Oke Bekee” are ro carry only 5 passengers per time while 14-seater buses are to carry only a maximum of 5 passengers per time with none in front except the driver.
“All inter-state bus parks or terminals must procure and deploy digital thermometers for screening of inbound and outbound passengers as well as provide hand sanitizers and hand washing materials for use by all staff and passengers or risk immediate closure.
Ikpeazu also asked Abians and other residents to shelve non-essential travels and movements till further notice.
“All hotels and hospitality establishments in the state must screen guests/staff and provide hand sanitizers before they are lodged or allowed access. Suspicious guests are to be reported immediately with full personal details and contact information.
“All night club activities are hereby banned in the state till further notice.
“Local Government Chairmen are to immediately hire town criers to continuously educate our people on how to prevent and protect themselves from Coronavirus. Failure to launch this Grassroots information service within 48 hours will attract sanctions. Town unions are also to be engaged to further sensitize our people on the need to maintain good hygiene and protect themselves from Coronavirus.
“All Abians, visitors and residents are advised to call the Abia Tele-Health Centre via 0700 ABIA DOC or 0700 2242 362 for enquiries on Coronavirus and reporting of health concerns.
“Those who suspect that they have symptoms of Coronavirus are strongly advised to call the Abia Tele-Health number 07002242362 for dispatch of ambulances or mobile clinics to pick them up. We strongly advise against suspected patients showing up at medical facilities in the state without going through the call and pick up services to avoid inadvertently infecting the others in our medical facilities. All 8 state owned ambulances, 4 mobile clinics and private ambulances, have been positioned across the 3 geopolitical zones of the state for rapid response. The staff have also been properly trained with personal protection materials provided.
“The state’s free home care for elderly persons program will be immediately expanded to ensure that they visit senior citizens at home and provide necessary care to them.
“The ongoing pensioners verification exercise must be concluded and shut down on Friday, March 27, 2020. In the interim, sanitizers and hand washing facilities must continue to be provided at all locations.
“All MDAs, parastatals and LGA offices in the state are to operate at a maximum of 20% staff strength, from Monday, March 30th, 2020, as determined by the head until further notice. All other workers are to stay at home from where they will continue to receive due wages.
“The state ministry of transport is hereby directed to set up appropriate surveillance system to monitor railway stations and inter-state bus terminals in the state.
Ikpeazu subsequently named an enforcement committee which membership are Dr. Solomon Ogunji (Chairman), Sir Onyi Wamah, Chief Sopuruchi Beke, Dr. KCK Nwangwa, Barr. Ekele Nwaohamuo,
Dr. Jonathan Osuji, Dr. Felix Chinwendu Joe, DCP Alfa Jibrin, Meshach Jatau, Dr. Uba Nwugha, Mr. Bright Ikeokwu, Chief Ezinwa Abiri, Hon. Kingsley Nnaji, and Hon. Obinna Friday
The government said there had been no recorded cases of Coronavirus in Abia even as it said it is working hard to put necessary measures in place to protect all and sundry. “Citizens, residents and visitors are strongly advised to take individual measures to protect themselves and loved ones as well as strictly follow guidance from this committee and medical professionals”, the state government pleaded.
“We will continue to review all measures on a day to day basis and give the people regular briefings”, a statement signed by Barr. Chris Ezem, Secretary to State Government; Dr. Joe Osuji, Honourable Commissioner for Health; and Chief John Okiyi Kalu, Honourable Commissioner for Information, on behalf of the Abia State Inter-Ministerial Committee on Coronavirus, said.