*Declares total lockdown in 3 LGAs
*237 persons, medics in contact with index cases quarantined
From Steve Oko ,Umuahia
Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State has imposed dusk to dawn curfew in the state beginning from 6:00pm Sunday as part of measures to stem the spread of the deadly coronavirus pandemic in the state.
The Governor in a press statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Onyebuchi Ememanka ,also announced a total lockdown in three Local Government Areas where the two index cases emanated.
The affected LGAs include : Ukwa West, Ikwuano, and Umuahia North.
Ikpeazu expressed deep concern that “despite the fact that Abia has recorded two index cases of the pandemic which has resulted to very aggressive contact tracing by officers of the State Ministry of Health, a good number of our citizens still find it difficult to heed to the Stay At Home directives made by the government.”
The Governor noted that so far, 237 contacts had been successfully traced by epidemiologists from the State Ministry of Health across three local governments of Ukwa West, Ikwuano and Umuahia North.
According to the statement, the state government has also taken some stringent measures to stop the spread of coronavirus in the state.
The additional measures include curfew, massive contact tracing and arrest and immediate prosecution of lockdown violators.
The statement read in part :” A dusk to dawn curfew is hereby declared in the State. The implication of this is that with effect from tomorrow, Sunday, April 26th, 2020, no form of movement of people shall be allowed in the State from 6pm in the evening till 6am in the morning.This curfew shall be in addition to the existing lockdown in the State.
“Within the period of the curfew, no form of economic activity shall be allowed. Local Government Areas Transition Committee Chairmen shall monitor the compliance of the curfew in their respective local government areas.
” In view of the challenges faced by our epidemiologists in the tracing of some of the contacts of our index cases in some communities, especially in UMUORIE of Ukwa West LGA, the Governor has ordered the Transition Committee Chairman of Ukwa West and the Traditional Ruler of the relevant Community to ensure that the health officers are granted unfettered access and cooperation to do their work. Failure to do this will result to immediate suspension for both the Chairman and the Traditional Ruler.
” Also in a bid to do a comprehensive and effective contact tracing in the three Local Government Areas of Ukwa West, Ikwuano and Umuahia North, these local governments shall be on TOTAL LOCKDOWN for Seven days, effective from midnight on Sunday, 26th April 2020.
“The respective Local Government Chairmen in these areas shall be held personally responsible should any lapses occur.
According to the Governor, the people of Abia State cannot allow the ineptitude or carelessness of a few to put our collective well-being in jeopardy.
“The use of face masks in Abia State is compulsory and defaulters shall be apprehended and prosecuted by the Mobile Courts established for that purpose. The Courts shall commence sitting from Monday, 27th April 2020.”
Meanwhile the state government has acknowledged the receipt of 1800 bags of rice from the federal government with assurances for its equitable distribution to the vulnerable groups as stimulus to cushion the effect of the covid -19 lockdown.
According to the statement, “the supplies will be examined to ascertain their wholesomeness, after which our people shall be briefed on the modalities for their distribution.”
On the distribution of palliatives, the Governor ordered the Secretary to Government to expand the membership of the Committee to include Transition Committee Chairmen of Local Government Areas, all Honorable Commissioners, Christian Association of Nigeria, Traditional Rulers, Civil Society Organizations, Women Journalists, Presidents General of Town Unions and Development Associations, etc.
“Also the Association of citizens of Imo, Anambra, Enugu and Ebonyi States will also be reached while special provisions shall be for other groups like artisans, mechanics, bus and keke drivers.
On the receipt of a number of face masks from the NCDC, the Governor made it clear that Abia State has attained self sufficiency in the local production of face masks and there won’t be any need for any imported face masks and Personnel Protective Equipment, PPEs in Abia State.
The Governor expressed his deep gratitude for the frontline workers, describing them as “real heroes.”