Plateau govt criminalises denial of COVID-19 in state

Piqued by the spike of COVID-19 pandemic in Plateau State, the state government has criminalized denial of existence of the disease and threatened that anyone caught propagating or instigating others against the existence of the virus will be prosecuted accordingly no matter how highly placed they may be.

Governor Lalong who disclosed this at the Shareholders meeting on the second wave of covid-19 and security issues at Government House in Jos said the most worrisome point was that despite the situation, most citizens appear to be careless and reluctant to observe the COVID-19 protocols adding that many have abandoned and refused to observe simple protocols of wearing face masks, maintaining social distance and washing hands regularly.

“This worries me a lot because this recklessness is further exposing more people to the virus and then increasing the casualty figures. While we have no intention of imposing another lockdown to avoid further damage to the economy, some members of the public are not helping us.

“For those who are in denial and continue to misinform others that COVID-19 does not exist, I want to warn them to desist. I as the number one citizen of the state was a victim and God helped me to come out of it. I can tell you that it is not a joke and I do not wish even my enemies such experience.

“That is why at the last state exco meeting, we decided to criminalize further denial of the disease in the state. In other words, if you deny the existence of the disease, keep your denial to yourself because if you are caught propagating it or instigating others to follow you, you will be arrested and prosecuted no matter how highly placed you might be,” he warned.

The governor who said the state government will re-strategize and embark on more education and sensitization particularly at the grassroots added that the government this time around will take the message down to the grassroots instead of relying on the stakeholders.

According to him, the latest approach became necessary as a result of increase in the number of death recorded in recent times adding that in the past weeks some prominent persons in Plateau State and indeed across Nigeria die from COVID-19.

He added: “Mostly we hear of the big names but do not get to hear of the others involving people that are less prominent. This should give us serious concern because it means that the situation is bigger than what we seem to know”

On the issue of vaccine, the governor implored Nigerians to be careful of promoting unsubstantiated rumour and promised that he would be the first to take the vaccine whenever it is available in Plateau State.

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