The Akwa Ibom State Government has called on the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), in the State to ensure that Christians and Churches across the State comply with the Government’s directive to fast and pray this Sunday, March 29, 2020 for God’s intervention in the menace of the Corona Virus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem made the call during an enlightenment meeting with the leadership of CAN, in his office at the Government House, Uyo.
Dr Ekuwem stated that the essence of the meeting was to brief the Christian body of the steps so far taken by the State Government to prevent the spread of the deadly disease in the State, stressing that part of the preventive measures taken are contained in the recent press release he personally signed on behalf of the State Government few days ago.
The State Chief Scribe informed CAN that the State Government has constituted a crack team headed by the State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel to monitor the situation in the three senatorial districts of the State.
The Commissioner of Information and Strategy, Mr Charles Udoh highlighted the proactive measures taken by the State Government to protect Akwa Ibom State against COVID-19 pandemic.
Udoh stated that for purpose of clarification, Akwa Ibom State Government has not placed a ban on social gatherings including churches, marriage and funeral ceremonies as well as other celebrations, rather a Task Force has been mandated to monitor gathering of more than ten persons to ensure compliance with preventive measures prescribed for such gatherings.
According to the information boss, such gatherings of not more than ten persons must be kitted with hand washing facilities with soap in a running water as well as hand sanitizers at the entrance and ensuring at least six feet space between people.
He added that infra-red thermometer (temperature readers) must be used at entrances and any person with high temperature; 38 degrees Celsius and above, must be reported immediately to the State COVID-19 emergency centre calling on the following numbers – 0818-941-1111, 09004-557-5515 and 0703-521-1919.
The image maker noted that it is important to continue to observe social distancing, avoid shaking of hand, embrace and keep at least six feet distance from anyone who is sneezing or coughing, stressing that non-compliance to these measures will necessitate immediate shutdown of such facilities or gatherings by government.
The Information Commissioner said following a critical analysis of the situation relating to COVID-19 pandemic, the State Government has taken additional preventive measures of directing workers in the State to stop work and stay at home for one week with effect from Monday, March 30, 2020, immediate closure of all borders, roads and creeks leading into and out of the State, except for the transportation of food items and suspension of all flight operations by Ibom Air from March 27, 2020 as against Sunday, 29th March, 2020, adding that all markets in the State remain open for sale of food stuff and essential items.
He assured that the State Government will continue to monitor the situation relating to the COVID-19 and provide periodic updates.
On his part, the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Dominic Ukpong said the State Government in line with its determination to continually update people on the situation of the pandemic in the State and the measures put in place by the Government to safeguard lives of the Akwa Ibom citizens and residents, has set up incidents management rooms in the major secondary health care facilities in the State as well as carry out training and intensive enlightenment awareness sessions in all part of the State.
Dr. Ukpong added that the State Government has set up monitoring processes at various entry points in the State, including Victor Attah International Airport which has the most sophisticated passengers screening facility and process in Nigeria.
According to the Health Commissioner, functional ambulances and Rapid Response Teams are on standby to move suspected or confirmed cases, if any, to the Emergency Operation and Treatment Centre (EOC) at Ikot Ekpene, adding that the State Government has also distributed Personal Protective Equipment (PPES) to all health facilities to facilitate the prevention control of the infection.
On the safety of people in rural communities, Dr. Ukpong said Chairmen of all Local Government Areas have been directed to set up Emergency Response Task Force to monitor and promptly report suspected cases.
He used the medium to again dispel the mischievous rumour of an outbreak of the Corona Virus in the State, describing it as false and unfounded as there is no record of such case in the State.
Responding on behalf of the leadership of CAN and the Christian Community in the State, the Chairman, Rev. Dr. Ndueso Ekwere lauded the state government for the protective measures taken to prevent and forestall the outbreak of the Virus in the state.
Dr. Ekwere stated that the provision of relevant equipment at different locations in the state, including setting up of Special Isolation Centre at Ikot Ekpene and mobilization of relevant personnel to handle emergency situations were quite commendable.
He, however, wishes that the state government should set up more Isolation Centres at local government areas and equip the hospitals with more technological and sensitive equipment to handle any eventuality.
The CAN Chairman enjoined all Christians and Churches to fast and pray earnestly on Sunday, March 29, 2020 for God to have mercy and put a stop to the spread of the virus, advising that although Churches have not been shut down, every church gathering should adhere strictly to the State Government directives on social distancing, use of hand sanitizers and washing of hands with soap in a rushing water.
In the attendance at the meeting were the Head of the State Civil Service, Elder Effiong Essien, Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Religious Matters, Rev. Daniel Akwatang and some Management Staff of the Secretary to the State Government’s Office.