Governor Hope Uzodimma has ordered the closure of Imo State Secretariat effective Monday, December 21, citing the resurgence in COVID-19 cases in the country.
The closure was a few days too soon for the Christmas and New Year holidays.
In a statewide broadcast on Sunday, December 20, Uzodimma outlined the dangers of the fresh spike in COVID-19 cases.
He thus ordered all government workers, except permanent secretaries and political appointees, to stay away from office till further notice.
The governor said the wearing of face masks has become compulsory for every Imo indigene as Mobile Courts have been directed to arrest and prosecute anyone found without wearing a face mask.
Also, the Governor banned social gatherings, above 100 people, the during the Christmas.
Attendees of such events, must observe physical distancing and all the Covid-19 safety protocols.
Markets and public places, the Governor noted, must also put in place wash hand facilities, sanitizers and other COVID-19 safety measures as recommended by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
Governor Uzodimma’s broadcast
“My dear good people of Imo State, it is with a great sense responsibility that I address you on this auspicious season of Christmas.In normal times, with just a few days to Christmas, I should be saying a very happy Christmas in advance to you. But the times are far from normal. The dreaded Coronavirus pandemic, otherwise known as Covid-19, is back in town at full speed.
“While I truly wish all of us a happy Christmas celebration in advance, I am duty bound to ensure that this should not be the last Christmas any of us will celebrate with his loved ones. This may sound scary but it is a grim possibility if we do not take urgent protective steps to stop Coronavirus on its tracks.
“There is a great global resurgence of the dreaded virus. With the reopening of international flights, movement of people across the globe is back on full stream. This has aided further spread of the virus. It is usual that at this Christmas season, our relations and friends from across the world and Nigeria will be coming home. Expectedly there is bound to be a great human traffic surge in Imo State. This ofcourse comes with its full implications for the spread of Covid 19.
“Already the effect of this frightful global resurgence and spike in Covid 19 infections is manifest in the country and Imo State.
“Since October the number of cases in the country, which hitherto seemed to be reducing, has been on a rapid rise. From 225 confirmed new cases in October, the number has risen to a frightful level of 77,933 in December. Yesterday,19th December alone 920 new confirmed cases were recorded in the country, with 6 deaths .In Imo State the situation is no less frightening. Recent PCR-Based tests carried out in the state in accordance with the guidelines of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), reveal a frightful upward surge in the confirmed cases curve.
As of last week, no less than 32 persons were confirmed positive with Covid 19.
“Sadly, while the grim realities of increasing COVID-19 infections continue to confront us every day, a general complacency and false sense of safety amongst our people to Covid 19 safety protocols remain the order of the day. This trend must be reversed in the interest of everyone. The time to do so is NOW. The imminent danger posed by the human traffic surge occasioned by the season, makes immediate and drastic steps in this direction both cogent and urgent.
” In this respect I want to emphasise that there is absolute need to avoid gathering of crowds of more than 100 people anywhere in the state. Where such crowds must gather, those involved MUST wear face masks.
“There should be wash hand stands readily available with alcohol based sanitisers at such gatherings.
“To further strengthen safety measures, all government workers are to stay at home from tomorrow, Monday, December 21, till further notice, except for permanent secretaries and political appointees. This means that the state secretariat, which is a major crowd puller, will remain closed, from tomorrow, to the public until further notice.
“In addition, wearing of face masks in public is henceforth absolutely compulsory. Mobile courts have been deployed all over the state to try any person caught without wearing face masks.
“Equally, all Covid 19 safety protocols will henceforth be strictly enforced. These include provision of wash hand stands and sanitisers in markets and worship places. Any person or persons caught not observing these safety protocols will be summarily prosecuted in the Mobile courts.
“As we enforce the safety protocols and monitor the situation, we shall regularly review developments to determine further measures that may be necessary.
“My beloved Imo people, as I earlier said, I will not want this Christmas to be the last for any of us. Let us take these safety protocols serious and observe them tenaciously. It is in the interest of all of us to do so.
“I wish you a happy and safe Christmas celebration. Please do all you must to remain safe. Your life is important to Imo State.
“Thank you all and God bless.”
Sen. Hope Uzodimma