My Dear Good People of Rivers State,
2. The number of positive cases of COVID-19 continues to increase at an alarming rate in our State.
3. Indeed, with a total of 866 positive cases, out of 2572 tested samples, Rivers State is gradually becoming the next epicenter of the virus in the south – south region of the country.
4. Within this period, we have also recorded 30 deaths, including prominent persons, as a result of the virus while 356 persons have recovered and been discharged from our treatment centres.
5. As the number of new cases and deaths continue to increase, there is no more denying that coronavirus is both dangerous and deadly. This is the hard truth.
6. We cannot also deny that the transmission of the virus in our State is currently on a steep upward trend, although the daily average number of new infections is still relatively low.
7. This being so, we must all brace up to the reality of having further daily new infections, and even a couple of deaths to this disease in the coming weeks and months.
8. Arguably, COVID-19 is a big health and social challenge we have never encountered, which can snowball into a serious disaster unless we do the needful to stem the spread in our State.
9. This was why we recognized that effective early response was the key to shutting down the virus and preventing it from progressing deep into our State and communities.
10. And we did act with some of the most drastic measures and extra-ordinary efforts we could muster to prevent the spread of the virus and protect our citizens from its deadly effects.
11. Unfortunately, some of our people deliberately twisted our intentions, maligned our timely measures and exploited the attendant temporary hardship on our people to further their selfish political drives.
12. Today, I am sure with the daily worrisome numbers of new infections and the fear of possible calamitous community transmission, everyone is now seeing the result of the needless politicization of the fight against the coronavirus in our State and the premature rolling back of the measures we had earlier put in place.
13. Nevertheless, we are encouraged by the fact that the virus can effectively be stopped from spreading further in our State and communities, if only we all submit to the prescribed guidelines and best practice on social distancing, as a matter of strict responsibility.
14. Yet, and most unfortunately, a good number of residents and visitors to our State are refusing to comply with the established guidelines and contributing to the increasing number of new daily infections in the State.
15. This nonchalant attitude is not only wrong; it is most wicked and indeed, a blatant violation of the rights of our people to good health and public safety.
16. We therefore, again, appeal to all residents and visitors to treat the spread of COVID-19 with all seriousness by:
(i) staying at home as much as possible;
(ii) avoiding contacts with others even when outside;
(iii) avoiding gathering in groups;
(iv) regularly washing your hands; and
(v) regularly wearing face masks or covering in public places, including transport mediums.
18. These remain the most imperative practices to stay safe and be protected from the spread of the virus in our State and communities.
19. Some of these measures, especially the wearing of face masks and avoiding social gatherings remain compulsory and the security agencies are directed to enforce the law against violators.
20. I wish to assure all that we shall continue to do all that we can in collaboration with well-meaning partners to stop the continuing spread of the coronavirus in the State but only with your help and full cooperation.
21. Pursuant to this fundamental objective, 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 coronavirus in these communities.
22. Consequently, the State’s Security Council has imposed a total lockdown on Bonny Island and Onne communities in Bonny and Eleme Local Government Areas of the State, respectively from tomorrow, Sunday June 21 2020 until further notice.
23. By this measure:
(i) all residents of Bonny Island and Onne communities, except those on essential services and duly exempted, must stay at home;
(ii) all shops, offices and business places must remain closed.
(ii) all gathering, including religious, burial and wedding activities are prohibited;
(iv) all entry and exit into the two communities, except on essential services and duly permitted, are also banned.
24. Security agencies have been directed to enforce the lockdown by arresting and prosecuting anyone who dares to disobey these directives.
25. The coronavirus is here with us and the number of infections is rising at frightening levels. Only today, we recorded 127 new cases and our isolation and treatment centres are already overwhelmed.
26. I wish to reiterate that this is not a time for playing games or politics. It is a moment to protect our State and our people from this deadly disease.
27. We should therefore be prepared for a statewide lockdown if the number of new infections continue to increase unabated at this dangerous rate.
29. The challenge therefore is for each and every one of us to avert the impending statewide lockdown by accepting and religiously performing our responsibility to reduce the risk of transmission and protect our people and our communities from this deadly disease.
30. Thank you and God bless you all.