Emmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia
Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, wednesday announced a total lockdown of the state as the state government ramped up strategies to keep COVID-19 out of the state.
He announced the extra measure in a state broadcast to update citizens “on steps we have taken so far to deal with the coronavirus pandemic and measures we have put in place for containment and dealing with future eventualities.”
The governor said the total lockdown, which took effect in the midnight of last Tuesday, had become inevitable because of the increasing cases of the virus in Nigeria and the need to protect Abia people from the disease. “This imposes on us a necessity to take urgent and stringent steps to safeguard the lives of our people in the state and prevent the pandemic from ravaging our people,” he said.
Ikpeazu noted that though Abia State has presently not recorded any case of COVID-19, the state must be kept in heightened vigilance as prevention is always better than cure.
“We are poised to do everything possible to shut out this virus from our shores, and we need everyone’s cooperation to succeed,” the governor vowed.
But to achieve the goal of keeping the state free from coronavirus, Ikpeazu said the collective effort and vigilance would be needed because “if you shut it out and your neighbour engages in harmful practices, it may still get in.”
The governor stated that the lockdown would last for two weeks, but would be subject to a review as events unfold, adding that all public events, including burials, wedding ceremonies and every other forms of social gatherings should not hold.
“I am not unmindful of the disruptions to lives and livelihoods that these measures will entail, but I want to remind us that health and life is paramount and every other consideration has to take second place,” he said.
However, the governor explained that the restriction on movement would not affect those involved in providing essential services that people need for daily survival. The exemption affects workers in the health and medical sector, food production, processing and retail outlets, security services, journalists, petroleum products, super markets and consumer shops among others.
Ikpeazu further assured the people of the state that his government was fully prepared to manage any outbreak should COVID-19 find its way into the state.