COVID-19: Abia launches community sensitization program

Following the successful launch of its community testing initiative for coronavirus a few weeks ago, the Abia State Government on Wednesday inaugurated a Covid-19 community sensitization team for its 17 Local Government Areas.

Chairman of Abia inter-ministerial committee on COVID-19 and Secretary to the State Government, Barr. Chris Ezem, who represented Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, called on all those residing in the state to take their destinies in their hands and see themselves as Ambassadors in the fight against Covid-19 in their various communities.

Ezem cautioned against tolerance of people who flout the protocol without necessary corrections from their fellow citizens, stressing that every member of a community must now help to instruct all those flouting protocols to desist from doing so.

“The message should immediately start from our homes. We must start preaching it from our homes, markets, churches and all gatherings. We can’t watch other people not observe the protocols and infect others in the process. Every buyer and seller must avoid falling victim of these protocols.

Addressing newsmen at Aba Town Hall, in Aba South LGA, venue of the inauguration and flag off, The Commissioner for Information, Chief John Okiyi Kalu, said that the new move is another milestone in government’s sensitization efforts against Covid-19.

He said that government was fully aware that the fight against the deadly virus was not over yet, therefore needed to do more by taking sensitization to the communities where the people need constant information and updating of such information to stay safe.

“What we have done today is to launch a community sensitization team for every local government. As it’s happening here, it’s also happening in 16 other LGAs of the State.

“What we expect from this team inaugurated today is to be driving around every community in Abia State with vehicles mounted with public address system, talking to people and passing relevant information in the manner and language the people at the grassroots understand perfectly”, he said.

The Commissioner also said that the team will apply and utilize every local system of communication necessary and peculiar to certain areas, to ensure that no stone is left unturned in the effort to ensure information about Covid-19 gets to the people.

“All the town criers and every information management structure that exists in our communities will now have to be deployed to sensitize our people on the prevention and control of COVID-19.

“It’s part of our ongoing efforts to break the chain of transmission in the state. We’ve already launched community testing which is ongoing. Abia is the first state in the Southeast region to roll out Community Testing,” he informed.

In that light, Okiyi Kalu gave a strict warning to transporters and passengers, stressing that the state police command has been mandated to arrest and ensure the arraignment of all those who flout Covid-19 protocols like wearing of face masks and number of passengers in each commercial vehicle.

“Henceforth, any tricycle carrying more than two passengers and whose occupants are not putting on face masks are in breach of Covid-19 protocols and would be arrested.

“Any passenger who joins a tricycle that already has two passengers is in breach of the same protocol and will also be arrested. While we recognize that carrying two passengers as against the usual four will naturally lead to price adjustment, it’s unconscionable for anyone to flout the rule alongside another culprit and still turn around to complain against them Those who voluntarily flaunt the regulations on 2 passengers and compulsory face mask should not come and complain about tri cyclists who fleece them or rogue security agents who take advantage of them.

“We believe that this challenge can easily be solved if our people take the fight against Covid-19 serious. Nobody should buy or sell to anybody who’s not putting on a face mask. It’s important that at our individual levels, we take responsibility and do the needful.

“We’ve empowered the state police command to use a more extensive system that’s by far greater than what we had in the past to ensure compliance. A lot of those breaking the rules will soon become very uncomfortable,” the Commissioner concluded.

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