Following the spike in COVID-19 cases in Bayelsa State and the lifting of the ban on inter-state travel, Governor Douye Diri has directed intensified screening of persons at the entry points into the state.
The governor, who ordered the COVID-19 task force to strictly enforce the directive, also restated the directive on compulsory wearing of facemask in all public places such as markets, banks, motor parks, churches and mosques.
Diri, who spoke during the enlarged meeting and briefing of the state’s COVID-19 task force at the Government House, Yenagoa, said the nationwide presidential curfew directive from 10pm to 4am was still in force.
His Acting Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, quoted the governor as expressing deep concern over the fatality rate of 6.5 per cent the state had recorded so far, which, according to him, is higher than the national average of 2.5 per cent.
Diri emphasised that the spike in COVID-19 -related deaths had made it imperative to deploy stringent measures to secure the lives of citizens from the pandemic.
The governor, while highlighting the role of religious leaders in partnering the government towards creating awareness about the virus, lifted the ban on wedding ceremonies but directed that they be held only on Sundays.
He also directed the unsealing of one of the churches that violated the COVID-19 protocols but called on church leaders not to misinterpret government’s intention in the ongoing fight against the virus.
He noted that while the government held them in high esteem, they must respect the biblical injunction advising them to respect those in authority.
The governor saluted the commitment and dedication of all frontline health personnel in the state in the battle against the pandemic and promised to provide the necessary support and encouragement.
To this end, he directed the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health to furnish his office with the necessary documents for the purchase of bio-safety cabinet and other critical medical equipment for the commencement of testing of COVID-19 samples in the state.
He said, “Yenagoa has been declared as COVID-19 high risk area. But the state government will not fold its arms and allow our state capital to be locked down because of coronavirus. So everybody must take responsibility and come to terms that the virus does exist.”
In his briefing, Chief Medical Director, Federal Medical Centre, Yenagoa, Dr Dennis Allagoa, thanked the state government for the tremendous support it had received in the fight against the virus.
He said equipment donated by the state government to the Federal medical institution ranged from mobile x-ray machines, dialysis machines to ultrasound scan and infusion pumps.
Meanwhile, Governor Diri has described the Minister of State for Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva, and the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Simbi Wabote, as illustrious sons of the state.
Diri, who was reacting to a recent online publication, which tended to cast aspersion on Sylva and the NCDMB that Wabote heads, said the duo deserved the support of all well-meaning Bayelsans and indeed the Ijaw nation.
He noted that what Bayelsa needs at this time is for everyone to seek the good and development of the state regardless of political affiliation or persuasion.