By Eseoghene Emuke
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa on Saturday expressed worries over the growing number of COVID-19 cases in Delta State.
The governor, who said the virus is now at an alarming community transmission rate, reminded residents that the disease is not a hoax and should be taken seriously.
Okowa expressed the concerns in a statement he issued on Saturday following the spike in the number of confirmed cases across the state.
He said over 22 persons including prominent Deltans have died as a result of the virus which is now ravaging most parts of the state.
The governor said, “It cannot be a hoax when over 20 persons have died including some prominent citizens.
“Therefore, I want to make a passionate appeal to all Deltans to please realise that the coronavirus disease is real,’’ he said, disclosing that as at Saturday, number of confirmed cases of the virus in the state was 781.”
Okowa lamented that the state on Thursday, June 25, 2020 recorded 106 cases, coming only behind Lagos, the epicentre of the pandemic while it also recorded 66 new cases on Friday according to the figures released by the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
“This brings the total number of infected persons in the State so far to 781. The local governments mostly affected are Oshimili South (181), Warri South (128), Uvwie (112), Oshimili North (79), Ughelli North (74), Ethiope West (41), and Sapele (66).
“The State Government allowed normal business activities to go on in essential sectors of the economy to enable citizens take care of their families. It does not in any way suggest that the danger is over.
“We made this decision with all sense of responsibility while counting on your partnership with the Government to defeat this virus. Regrettably, it does appear our people have not taken this matter as seriously as they should.
“Our isolation centres are currently overwhelmed with the number of cases and unless we proactively and collectively take drastic actions to reverse the trend, we stand the risk of becoming another epicentre for the pandemic.”
The statement called on religious organizations to strictly enforce the protocols agreed with the state government to contain the further spread of the virus in the state.
The governor ordered that henceforth, banks, supermarkets, malls, stores, salons, and motorists MUST admit limited persons per time and strictly enforce the physical/social distancing rule.
“In addition to providing hand wash stations/alcohol-based sanitizers, banks, salons, supermarkets, stores, and malls MUST deny entry to patrons without facemasks. Where there is more than one person, occupants of private vehicles MUST also wear face masks.
“The number of guests at social events – weddings, funerals, traditional marriages – should not exceed 50 with appropriate physical distance set in place. People without face masks MUST be turned back. I also implore our religious houses to implement all the safety protocols as agreed.
“Residents in the most affected local governments – Oshimili South, Warri South, Uvwie, Oshimili North, Ughelli North, Ethiope West, and Sapele – are particularly advised to be on red alert.
“Let me emphasise once again that the coronavirus disease is real, and anybody can contact it. It is neither a rich man’s nor a poor man’s disease. Anybody can be affected.