By Emmanuel Ugwu
The Abia State Governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, has imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew on the state with effect from Sunday as he tightened the noose to prevent the spread of Covid-19 pandemic in the state.
Abia has already recorded two index cases of Covid-19 and is currently making strenuous efforts to trace the contacts amidst lockdown that has been in place since last month.
But Ikpeazu announced at a media briefing in Aba that taking further stringent measures has become necessary because people were not obeying the directives issued by government in the fight against Covid-19.
“Within the period of the curfew, no form of economic activity shall be allowed. No form of movement of people shall be allowed in the state from 6pm in the evening till 6am in the morning,” he said.
Governor Ikpeazu lamented that despite the fact that Covid-19 is now a reality in Abia, a large number of people were still not cooperating in the efforts to save the state from the ravaging pandemic.
He said that the “very aggressive contact tracing” launched after the two index cases came to light has led to tracing of 237 contacts so far in the three designated local governments of Ikwuano, Umuahia North and Ukwa West.
According to him, efforts of epidemiologists from the state Ministry of Health in tracing the contacts were being hampered “as a good number of our citizens still find it difficult to heed the stay-at-home directive made by the government”.
The governor specifically cited Umuorie community in Ukwa West Local Government where epidemiologists were denied access to trace the contacts of the index case from the area.
He ordered the transition committee chairman of Ukwa West and the traditional ruler of Umuorie to ensure that officials of the health ministry are granted unfettered access and cooperation to do their work.
“Failure to do this will result in the immediate suspension of both the chairman and the traditional ruler,” Ikpeazu warned.
He also announced that Ukwa West, Umuahia North and Ikwuano Local Governments “shall be on total lockdown for seven days, effective from midnight on Sunday, 26th April 2020″.
He explained that the specific measures adopted for the three local governments would enable the health officials to carry out “comprehensive and effective contact tracing”, adding that the respective TC chairmen would be held responsible for any lapses.
Ikpeazu said that Abia has no need to receive masks from the NCDC because the state “has attained self sufficiency in the local production of face masks and there won’t be any need for any imported masks and PPEs in Abia State”.
He emphasized that the use of masks “is compulsory” in Abia, adding that the Mobile Courts set up to try defaulters would commence sitting on Monday.