Onyedi Michael, PortHarcourt
Rivers State Government has ordered a total lockdown of Bonny Local Government Area and Onne Community in Eleme Local Government Areas with effect from June 21 to check the spread of coronavirus in the state.
Governor Nyesom Wike, in a state broadcast on Saturday evening, said all residents of Bonny and Onne community, except those on essential services, must stay at home.
Wike said, “Pursuant to the fundamental objective of stopping the spread of coronavirus, we have reviewed the situation in Bonny Island and Onne Communities and come to the conclusion that a total lockdown is necessary at this time to shut down the continuing spread of the virus in these communities.
“By this measure, all shops, offices and business places must remain closed. All gatherings, including religious, burial and wedding activities are prohibited. All entry and exit into the two communities, except those on essential services and duly permitted, are also banned.
“Security agencies have been directed to enforce the lockdown by arresting and prosecuting anyone who dares to disobey these directives.”
The governor noted that with a total of 866 positive cases out of 2,572 tested samples, the state was gradually becoming the next epicenter of the virus in the South-South region of the country.
The governor, in a statement by his Commissioner for Information and Communications, Paulinus Nsirim, said that within the period, the state also recorded 30 deaths, including prominent persons, while 356 persons recovered and were discharged from Treatment Centres.
“Only today, the state recorded 127 new cases leaving the Isolation and Treatment Centres overwhelmed,” the governor said.
As the number of new cases and deaths continued to increase, the governor said there was no more denying that coronavirus was both dangerous and deadly.
He said, “We cannot also deny that the transmission of the virus in our state is currently on a steep upward trend. This being so, we must all brace up to the reality of having new infections and a couple of deaths in the coming weeks and months.
“When we recognised that effective early response was key to preventing the virus from progressing deep, we introduced drastic measures to protect our citizens.
“Unfortunately, some people deliberately twisted our intentions, maligned our timely measures and exploited the attendant temporary hardship on our people to further their selfish political drives.
“Today, I am sure with the daily worrisome number of new infections and the fear of possible calamitous community transmission, everyone is now seeing the needless politicization of the fight against coronavirus.
“Nevertheless, we are encouraged by the fact that the virus can effectively be stopped from spreading further, if only we all submit to the prescribed guidelines on social distancing as a matter of strict responsibility.”
Wike regretted the nonchalant attitude of those, who blatantly violated the rights of people to good health and public safety by refusing to comply with established guidelines.
He appealed to all residents and visitors to treat the spread of coronavirus with all seriousness by staying at home as much as possible; avoiding contacts with others when outside, avoiding gathering in groups, regularly washing hands; and regularly wearing face masks in public places, including transport mediums.
The governor assured that government would continue to collaborate with well-meaning partners to stop the continuing spread of coronavirus.
He stated that this is not a time to play politics, and called on residents to accept individual responsibility to reduce the risk of transmission and protect the people.
The governor warned that residents of the state should be prepared for a state wide lockdown if the number of new infections continue to increase.