By: Chioma Onuegbu, Uyo
GOVERNOR Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State has refused to bow to pressure from the citizens and residents to reopen church services, insisting that there will be no church services until the country was able to curb the spread of the Coronavirus otherwise known as COVID-19.
Emmanuel who spoke in Uyo at the weekend during a live interactive program on state-owned Radio and Television stations appealed to the citizens and residents to see the development occasioned by the deadly coronavirus as a safety measure and not plot by the government to stop people from attending church services.
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He explained that why the government unlocked the domestic economy and insisted that churches and social gatherings remained closed was because of the inability to control the crowd and level of interaction in such places.
His words, “That is where we are scared. It is not that we don’t want to allow churches to hold services. We cannot allow church services because of the level of interaction after services, that is when you see people hugging, shaking hands, and at that point, the pastor will not be able to control the crowd.
“We are Africans, you cannot take that communal life away from our people. So the problem is not the Church, the problem is, after a church service, after sharing the Grace what happens?
“So we will let people know when to reopen churches, but for now there will be no church services. You know someone like me loves church services but at a critical time like this there is nothing we can do”
The governor urged people to have faith in God that the COVID-19 crisis would be over soon and thanked all residents who have been observing the measures, guidelines, and rules put in place to contain the Coronavirus pandemic.
He, however, warned that those who try to do weddings or burials within the period when the government has not approved for that would be arrested, stressing, “So please don’t push us to that point, just obey the simple instructions. As soon as we can drive the curve downwards then we will open everywhere”.
“God promised that he will shake all nations of the world, He has shaken all the nations of the world. Coronavirus is in every country. But one thing with God is that He is beautiful in all situations. That is why people like us must have faith in God”
Responding to a question on when the 300-bed space Isolation centre being constructed at General Hospital,Ituk Mbang in Uruan local government area would be completed, governor Emmanuel noted that the project would be ready for final inspection by medical experts on Thursday, May,14.
He expressed no doubt that the Isolation Centre would meet the World Health Organisation (WHO) standard.
“But the only problem we may have now is that the Oxygen cylinder is not manufactured in Nigeria and we are trying to bring that in because we want to make sure that every singing bed space there is connected to oxygen so that from the headrest of your bed you can be attended to”
“Un everything we do, we make sure it is of international standard. We have 2019, 2020 beds, modern beds that can be remotely controlled by the sides. The beds that CACOVID gave to us is substandard, we no longer use that. So give us up to May 18, 2020, and we should be able to showcase what we have”, he said.
Emmanuel also boasted that before the end of this year his administration would have put up modern, digitized secondary health facilities in each of the federal constituencies across the state, adding that the General Hospital Ikot Abasi which is yet to be touched would be awarded in the next few months.
He noted, “There is no substitute to healthcare. A healthy state must always be a wealthy state. And I keep repeating myself that every life in this state is as important to me, so I must do everything possible to save lives”