—Says state engages town criers to sensitize indigenes
—To sanction those who breach protocols
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru, ABUJA
GOVERNOR Hope Uzodinma of Imo State yesterday raised the alarm that the number of people testing positive and dying as a result of Coronavirus pandemic infection was on the increase in the state.
The Governor also said that his administration has introduced sanctions for people refusing to wear a face mask in compliance with the Presidential Task Force, PTF’s protocols on COVID-19.
Speaking to State House correspondents after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the Imo State Governor said that already community leaders in the state have started engaging town criers in sensitizing the people on the need to obey all the protocols.
According to him, “The number of people testing positive and dying is on the increase, state government alone cannot as a matter of honesty summon the capacity and resources to address this menace. So we also pleaded and Mr President has promised that he will intervene.”
On what he wants from the President, Uzodinma said, “We need medical support, we need equipment, we need oxygen, we need well-equipped isolation centres, we need to test more and also when people test positive, we need to have the resources, the medication to ensure that the thing is remedied.”
Fielding question on what he was doing to sensitize the people of the state on the dangers of COVID-19, he said,” Three months ago we commissioned Risk Communication centre in Owerri for the purposes of creating awareness and getting our people to know the danger inherent in being careless and contacting this pandemic.
“We have gone further, we did a summit with all the traditional rulers and as I speak to you, in Imo State, all the community leaders have engaged town criers.”
Uzodinma informed Journalists that the State already has in place a Task Force on COVID-19 and measures were being taken to reduce the spread of the disease and ensure the safety of all citizens.
He said: “A few days ago I issued an Executive Order to make not wearing mask a crime in Imo State. So, any moment from now, we will begin to arrest people refusing to wear a mask, I have given a fourteen-day ultimatum for all coming into Imo State to wear their face mask and comply with NCDC protocol or be arrested and tried.
“I have created six mobile courts to handle that. We don’t joke. It is better we offend people than to allow this disease to continue to spread in Imo State.
“I have in place a Task Force on COVID-19 chaired by Prof. Maurice Iwu, the former Chairman of INEC and they have done well. We have in place four isolation centres, fully equipped and the government partnering with the private sector has also equipped an additional isolation centre at the University Teaching Hospital Orlu.
“But the number is growing daily and those testing positive are also on the increase so I think we need to prepare more grounds; build more isolation centres, get more medications, get oxygen and also try to have respiratory support equipment for those who have difficulty in breathing after they have been infected.”
The Governor lamented that some Nigerians are very stubborn towards complying with non-pharmaceutical protocols thus, the need to introduce sanctions.
He said, “The only effective cure we have seen now is when you are able to test and it is detected early and you take steps to change your hygiene system and comply with the protocols.
“Its not easy honestly because, knowing the attitude of our people, they are so stubborn, you continue to plead with them to see reason with you because you can only be stubborn if you are alive; we’ve seen how people are dying every day, in everywhere, even in Imo State because of this ugly monster called COVID-19.
“So, our people are invited through this medium to please respect and comply with NCDC protocols for this COVID-19 so that at least we will be alive.
“If life is supposed to be paid for, many of us will not be able to pay the price but God gave it to us freely so we should do our best in appreciation, to also understand the value of life and help the government to also help our people.”
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