My Dear Good People of Rivers State,
As at today 8 July 2020, the COVID-19 status of our State is as follows:
Total samples collected: 4573
Total samples tested: 3871
Total confirmed cases: 1235
Total Discharged cases: 810
Total active cases: 382
Total death: 43
New cases: 30
2. From the very first days of this virus, we took serious measures and literarily set the pace in our country to slow the spread and avoid community transmission of this diseases in our State.
3. Unfortunately, we’ve been unable to flatten the curve up to this moment, despite all our efforts. Instead, the number of positive cases has continued to rise, much to our collective discomfort.
4. Indeed, apart from the dramatic rise in positive cases, we now know that this virus is spreading in our communities all over the State.
5. We have also noticed that most affected people are resorting to self-medication instead of presenting themselves for appropriate medical attention and treatment at the State’s treatment centres.
6. Furthermore, in the face of increasing infections and systemic risk to public health and safety, most residents have continued to disregard the mitigating protocols with reckless abandon.
7. All over the State, people are going about without wearing face masks or practicing the simple hygiene of regular washing of hands and applying alcohol-based sanitizers.
8. Public and private transporters and business owners, including super-markets and related businesses, have refused to obey or enforce the established guidelines on social distancing, hand washing and wearing of face masks.
9. Security reports also indicated that Churches in Eleme, Obio/Akpor, Oyigbo, and Port Harcourt City Local Government Areas are refusing to limit social gathering to not more than 50 persons at a time.
10. Burial ceremonies are also reportedly being conducted in clear breach of the 50 persons maximum attendance limit, such that a serving Permanent Secretary had the temerity to chase away officials of the State Ministry of Health who went to enforce the established guidelines on public burials at Oyigbo.
11. I wish to remind you that this virus cannot be wished away without taking appropriate actions on our part, each and every one of us.
12. It is for this reason that we are asking every resident to take personal responsibility; to take the necessary precautions to prevent exposure and spread of COVID-19 in our communities.
13. As you now know, although the virus impacts gravely on the vulnerable population, especially those with underlying health conditions, being infected with COVID 19 is not a death sentence.
14. The symptoms are also well-known: fever, cough, loss of smell or taste and shortness of breath, among others.
15. Therefore, those who experience any, some or all of these symptoms or suspect they may have been in contact with an affected person need not wait for a moment to present themselves for testing and appropriate treatment at the expense of the State Government.
16. It makes no meaning to embark on or resort to self-medication as this approach has directedly been responsible for some of the covid-19 related deaths in our communities.
17. Also, the commencement of inter-state travels and domestic flights will increase the influx of persons from some of the most affected States, especially, Lagos and the Federal Capital Territory, and aggravate the risk of transmission of the virus in Rivers State.
18. Let me therefore appeal to residents to be cautious of relations, friends, business/social partners and visitors from such States and relate with them in conformity with the established protocols against the spread of this virus, including having them isolated for 14 days.
19. Let me assure each and every citizen that we we will not fail in our commitment to do whatever it takes to meet the challenge of this time by slowing the spread of this illness and saving the lives our people.
20. We wish to re-emphasize the importance of all the measures and standard protocols we have put in place to fight the spread of this virus throughout the State and urge every resident to comply as a matter of duty.
21. Bars, cinemas, viewing centres, restaurants and related businesses shall remain closed until further notice.
22. We are closely monitoring compliance with the wearing of face masks in public places, including transport vehicles, and urge residents to strictly comply or risk arrest and prosecution.
23. All supermarkets and related stores and businesses must continue to enforce social distancing and the compulsory wearing of face masks or risk being sealed off.
24. A State Joint Task Force made up of security and civilian personnel has been set up to enforce the wearing of face masks in the State.
25. We are appraising the prospect of opening our markets to public trading and would do so once we are satisfied that it is safe and proper with appropriate guidelines to enforce social distancing, hand washing, basic hygiene practices, and the wearing of face masks.
26. We are taking necessary measures to decontaminate our public schools, protect our children and ensure the safe resumption of schools for terminal classes in line with the Federal Government’s Guidelines on a date to be announced by the Commissioner of Education.
27. Also, as a further measure to sustaining the progress we have made, the Security Council has decided to place a nighttime curfew, from 8.00 p.m. to 6.00 a.m. on Bonny Local Government Area, and Onne community in Eleme Local Government Area, with effect from 10th July 2020 until further notice.
28. These and all other measures are very important, and the more we strictly apply and comply with them, the quicker are we going to slow the spread and eventually kick out this pandemic from our State.
29. As a Government, we are serious with our own responsibilities and those who take our resolve for granted and think that they can undermine our efforts at will without suffering consequences are gravely mistaken.
30. Consequently, the Permanent Secretary, Establishment, Mr. Sunny Okere has been relieved of his appointment with immediate effect for flouting and obstructing the enforcement of the guidelines on public burials. This should serve as a lesson to all other public officers who may wish to be irresponsible.
31. Finally, I wish to again thank our incredible healthcare workers, including doctors and nurses, and assure them that we will continue to spare no efforts and expense to provide for their welfare and safety as they continue to serve our people at grave risks to their own lives.
32. Thank you and God bless you all.