The Rivers State Government has imposed a total lockdown of the Bonny Local Government Area and Onne community in the Eleme LGA with effect from Sunday (today) to check the spread of coronavirus in the state.
According to a statement, Governor Nyesom Wike, who announced the lockdown in a state-wide broadcast on Saturday, said only residents on essential duty were exempted.
Wike said, “Pursuant to the fundamental objective of stopping the spread of coronavirus, we have reviewed the situation in Bonny Island and Onne communities and come to the conclusion that a total lockdown is necessary at this time to shut down the continuing spread of the virus in these communities.
“By this measure, all shops, offices and business places must remain closed. All gatherings, including religious, burial and wedding activities, are prohibited. All entry and exit from the two communities, except those on essential services and duly permitted, are also banned.
“Security agencies have been directed to enforce the lockdown by arresting and prosecuting anyone who dares to disobey these directives.”
The governor noted that, with a total of 866 positive cases out of 2,572 tested samples at the time of the broadcast, the state was gradually becoming the next epicentre of the virus in the South-South region of the country.
He said, though the state had recorded 30 deaths, including prominent persons, and 356 persons had recovered and were discharged from treatment centres, residents should prepare for more COVID-19 infections and deaths.
According to him, residents of the state should “be prepared for a state-wide lockdown, if the number of new infections continue to increase unabated.”
Wike added, “Only today, the state recorded 127 new cases leaving the isolation and treatment centres overwhelmed. We cannot also deny that the transmission of the virus in our state is currently on a steep upward trend.
“This being so, we must all brace up to the reality of having new infections and a couple of deaths in the coming weeks and months. When we recognised that effective early response was key to preventing the virus from progressing deep, we introduced drastic measures to protect our citizens.
“Unfortunately, some people deliberately twisted our intentions, maligned our timely measures and exploited the attendant temporary hardship on our people to further their selfish political drives.”
He lamented what he described as the needless politicisation of the COVID-19 battle, adding that the prescribed guidelines on social distancing was a matter of strict responsibility.