Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
The spike in the number of confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in Bayelsa has heightened anxiety in the state.
Governor Douye Diri has expressed worry over the development, following the lifting of the ban on interstate travel.
The Acting Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr Daniel Alabrah, quoted him as expressing deep concern over the fatality rate of 6.5% the state has recorded so far, which, according to him, is higher than the national average of 2.5%.
The governor directed that screening of persons at entry points into the state be intensified and ordered the COVID-19 task force to strictly enforce the directive.
Governor Diri, who expressed concern over the spike during the enlarged meeting and briefing of the state’s COVID-19 task force at the Government House, Yenagoa, restated the directive on the compulsory wearing of face masks in all public places, including markets, banks, motor parks, and houses of worship.
While noting that the nationwide presidential curfew directive from 10 pm to 4 am was still in force, he emphasised that the spike in COVID-19-related deaths has necessitated the adoption of stringent measures to secure the lives of its citizens from the pandemic.
The governor, highlighting the role of religious leaders in partnering with government toward creating awareness about the virus, lifted the ban on wedding ceremonies but directed that they be held only on Sundays.
He also directed the unsealing of a church that violated the COVID-19 protocols but called on church leaders not to misinterpret government’s intention in the ongoing fight against the virus.
Diri pointed out that while the government holds them in high esteem, church leaders must respect the biblical injunction advising them to respect those in authority.
The governor saluted the commitment and dedication of frontline health personnel in the state in the battle against the pandemic and promised to provide the necessary support and encouragement.
He directed the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health to furnish his office with the necessary documents for the purchase of bio-safety and other critical medical equipment for the commencement of COVID19 testing in the state.
His words: “Yenagoa has been declared as COVID-19 high risk area. But the state government will not fold its arms and allow our state capital to be locked down because of coronavirus. So everybody must take responsibility and come to terms that the virus does exist.”