Applicants shun face masks, defy social distancing at NIMC office as COVID-19 cases skyrocket in Edo

Unconcerned by the recent hike in cases scores of the dreaded COVID-19 in Edo State, scores of applicants at the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) office at Oredo Local Government Area of Edo State have refused to wear face masks and adhere to social distancing as outlined by the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

A visit to the council headquarters in downtown Benin near the Oba Palace revealed that applicants who crowded round the office, threw social distancing to the wind as they pushed and shoved themselves in a desperate effort at getting the attention of officials of NIMC.

Going by recent figures released by the Edo State COVID-19 Incident Manager, Dr. Andrew Obi, 30 new cases of the deadly virus have been recorded in the recent outbreak of the dreaded epidemic.

He said that out of the 30 persons who tested positive for the virus, eight are from Oredo Local Government Area; another eight from Egor and seven from Ikpoba Okha, while the remaining seven cases were reported from persons drawn from other council areas in the state.

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The sudden increase in the number of applications may not be unconnected with the decision by the NIMC mandating phone users from registering their mobile phone numbers with the National Identification Number (NIN).

An applicant who simply identified himself as Edosa confessed that he is not always comfortable wearing a face mask as it doesn’t allow him to breathe freely.

Another applicant, Joan Osahon said that she left her home in suburban Ikpoba Hill to NIMC office at Oredo Local Government Council at about 6 in the morning but was surprised to see a large crowd of people already on the line, waiting to be given numbers for the purpose of registration.

She said: “I must be very frank with you. Here, nobody observe COVID-19 protocols. We are very close and do not observe social distancing. As you can see, nobody wears face masks here.”

Fuming, an official of NIMC said that he tried in vain to keep the horde of applicants at bay, noting that he appealed to them to wear face masks but his persistent appeals fell on deaf ears.

The official who refused to disclose his identity charged: “I told the applicants to wear face masks but they just will not listen. When they came this morning, I lectured them on the need to wear face masks but they refused to obey.”

Asked why he attended to them since they refused to put on face mask, he said that it was not up to him to enforce the rule but to officials of the council who are the owners of the complex situated in front of Oba of Benin Palace.

The Leader of Oredo Local Government Legislative House, Mr. Jeffrey Ewansiha explained that the council has over the advised visitors to the council secretariat on the health implications of not wearing face masks.

Ewansiha said: “Human beings are very difficult to control. We are trying our best to ensure that visitors to the council secretariat wear face masks. We’ll find a way to get around it. With the current upsurge in cases of COVID-19, we’ll do something about it.”

NIGERIAN TRIBUNE

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