By Chinonso Alozie, Owerri
Imo state governor, Hope Uzodimma, yesterday ordered the workers in the state, to stay home from Monday next week till further notice, ahead of the festive period.
The governor in his state-wide broadcast to Imo people in Owerri, said that the reason was that due to the expected influx of people coming home for Christmas that there could be a surge in the cases of covid -19.
Uzodimma while wishing his people fruitful Christmas celebration noted that the wearing of facemask would be compulsory and that mobile courts would be deployed to within the state, to enforce the order.
He continued: “My dear good people of Imo State, it is with a great sense responsibility that I address you on this auspicious season of Christmas.In normal times, with just a few days to Christmas, I should be saying a very happy Christmas in advance to you. But the times are far from normal. The dreaded Coronavirus pandamic, otherwise known as Covid 19, is back in town at full speed.
“Since October the number of cases in the country, which hitherto seemed to be reducing, has been on a rapid rise. From 225 confirmed new cases in October, the number has risen to a frightful level of 77,933 in December. Yesterday,19th December alone 920 new confirmed cases were recorded in the country, with 6 deaths.
“In Imo State the situation is no less frightening. Recent PCR-Based tests carried out in the state in accordance with the guidelines of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), reveal a frightful upward surge in the confirmed cases curve. As of last week, no less than 32 persons were confirmed positive with covid 19.”
He was not happy that, “Sadly, while the grim realities of increasing Covid 19 infections continues to confront us every day, a general complecency and false sense of safety amongst our people to Covid 19 safety protocols remain the order of the day. This trend must be reversed in the interest of everyone. The time to do so is NOW. The imminent danger posed by the human traffic surge occasioned by the season, makes immediate and drastic steps in this direction both cogent and urgent.
“In this respect I want to emphasise that there is absolute need to avoid gathering of crowds of more than 100 people anywhere in the state. Where such crowds must gather, those involved MUST wear face masks. There should be wash hand stands readily available with achohol based sanitisers at such gatherings.
“To further strengthen safety measures, all government workers are to stay at home from tomorrow, Monday, December 21, till further notice, except for permanent secretaries and political appointees. This means that the state secretariat, which is a major crowd puller, will remain closed, from tomorrow, to the public until further notice.”
The governor added: “In addition, wearing of face masks in public is henceforth absolutely compulsory. Mobile courts have been deployed all over the state to try any person caught without wearing face masks.
“Equally, all COVID-19 safety protocols will henceforth be strictly enforced. These include provision of wash hand stands and sanitisers in markets and worship places. Any person or persons caught not observing these safety protocols will be summarily prosecuted in them.”