By Mike Odiegwu, Port Harcourt
River State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has sacked a Permanent Secretary, Mr. Sunny Okere, with immediate effect for flouting and obstructing the enforcement of the COVID-19 guidelines.
He said the sacked permanent secretary had the temerity to chase away officials of the state Ministry of Health, who went to Oyigbo to enforce the established guidelines on public burials.
A statement signed by the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Paulinus Nsirim, said the governor spoke on Wednesday in a statewide broadcast.
Wike said his action against the permanent secretary would act as as a lesson to all other public officers who might wish to be irresponsible.
The governor also appealed to residents of the state to take personal responsibility to curb the spread of Coronavirus.
He said with the commencement of inter-state travels and domestic flights, residents must be cautious in relating with friends and relatives coming from heavily impacted areas like Lagos and Abuja in line with the established protocol of 14 days Isolation.
He said as at July 8, the COVID-19 samples collected were 4573; samples tested, 3871; total confirmed cases, 1235; discharged cases, 810; active cases, 382and total deaths 43.
He said: “From the first days of this virus, we took serious measures and literally set the pace in our country to slow down the spread.
“We have noticed that most affected people are resorting to self medication instead of presenting themselves for treatment at the State’s Treatment Centres.
“Those who experience symptoms of fever, cough, loss of smell or taste and shortness of breath, among others should present themselves for appropriate treatment at the expense of the State Government.
“Furthermore, in the face of increasing infections and systemic risk to public health and safety, most residents have continued to disregard the mitigating protocols with reckless abandon.
“Public and private transporters, business owners and churches are refusing to adhere to the relevant protocols.
“Burial ceremonies are also reportedly being conducted in clear breach of the 50 persons maximum attendance limit such that a serving Permanent Secretary had the temerity to chase away officials of the State Ministry of Health who went to enforce the established guidelines on public burials at Oyigbo”
He assured that government would decontaminate public schools to keep them safe for resumption in line with the Federal Government’s Guidelines.
He said the government was also appraising the prospect of opening markets as soon as it was satisfied that it was safe with appropriate guidelines on social distancing, hand washing and wearing of face masks.
Wike announced the setting up of a Joint Taskforce made up of security and civilian personnel to enforce the wearing of face masks.
He said that to sustain the progress made in the state, the State Security Council imposed a night time curfew from 8pm to 6am on Bonny Local Government and Onne Community in Eleme Local Government with effect from July 10, 2020 until further notice.
The governor assured all health workers, including doctors and nurses that government would continue to cater for their welfare as they continue to serve the state at grave risks to their own lives.
He added that government would not fail to do whatever it takes to slow down the spread of the virus.