Coronavirus: Rivers government closes schools

Directs restrictions on religious activities

Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has ordered the closure of all schools in the state and also directed all religious organisations to restrict their activities as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic.

The closure affected public and private schools, including primary, secondary schools and tertiary institution across the state, even as the governor said the action was taken in the interest of the state and the people.

According to a statement issued on Friday by his media aide, Simeon Nwakaudu, the governor said: “Based on the above precautionary measures, the state can be described to be at an alert state.

“To further strengthen our resolve to protect our citizens, the state government has taken the following decisions: all schools in the state are to be closed down with effect from Monday, March 23, 2020; all religious organisations are to restrict their activities.”

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He said his administration took the decision with a deep sense of responsibility, adding: “As you are aware, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has described coronavirus as a global pandemic. This development calls for collective action by all well-meaning citizens.

“As a responsive government, even though we have not had a confirmed case of coronavirus, we did not rest on our oars as we set-up a five-man inter-ministerial committee to carry out aggressive public enlightenment that will protect all those living and doing business in the state from the disease.

“This decision was taken because we understand that we are the headquarters of the hydrocarbon industry and also a major commercial hub in the country that attracts people from all walks of life.”

The governor assured that the state was alert to address the situation as he declared: “The committee had since its inauguration carried out stakeholder engagement with community development committees, religious groups, principals and headteachers of schools, traders associations, National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), military, paramilitary, police, International Oil Companies and the Association of Local Government Chairmen of Nigeria (ALGON).

“In addition to this, radio and television jingles, flyers and billboards have been fully utilised by the committee to pass the prevention message to all the nooks and crannies of the state.

“The state Ministry of Health has also been empowered to set up intervention resources [in addition] ] 158 surveillance and ad-hoc personnel have been trained; one treatment centre, holding centres in the two teaching hospitals and all General Hospitals in the state are fully functional.

“All health workers, both private and public have been trained and briefed on infection control, measures and appropriate use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Hand sanitizers have been procured, Infrared thermometers have been procured and stockpiling of other commodities and equipment and  we have redoubled surveillance at our airports, seaports, waterways and land routes.”

Wike pleaded for the understanding of the people as he said: “My dear good people of Rivers State, as painful as these decisions may seem, it is a sacrifice we must make to protect ourselves in the face of recent developments.

“Let me assure all those resident in the state, that the state government under my leadership is ready and willing to protect their lives at all times. May I, therefore, call for the understanding and collective support of all and sundry to keep our state safe from coronavirus.

Together, we shall win, with God on our side.”


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