Rivers State on Friday shut down Block C of the State Secretariat complex, Port Harcourt following the death linked to Covid-19 of the Director of Treasury in the Ministry of Finance.
In a brief statement, the government advised members of the public that visited Block C of the secretariat complex to go into self-isolation. It also confirmed that five other personnel of the ministry had tested positive for Covid-19.
The deaths coupled with the spike in confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the state have given room to fears that the dreaded pandemic might just be on the rampage in the city.
One of the confirmed deaths was that of the deputy accountant general of the state, Cyril Amaewhule, who died at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Port Harcourt. His death was quickly followed by that of the Chairman of Asari Toru Local Government, Odiari Princewill, who was buried at the Port Harcourt cemetery on Wednesday by officials of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) following laid down protocol for burying corpses of people that died of Covid-19.
But what shook the city most was the death on Thursday of the Executive Director, Finance and Administration of the Niger Delta Development Commission, Bassey Etang.
Though as at Friday, results of Covid-19 tests on the NDDC director had not been made public, the commission shut down its head office in Port Harcourt and asked all staff to self-isolate for 14 days.
The fact that the result of his test had not been made known fuelled suspicion that Etang might have been poisoned to frustrate the forensic audit of the finances of the NDDC that is getting underway.
Port Harcourt had come under several lockdowns since the Covid-19 pandemic scare began in March. Though confirmed cases were minimal initially, the cases have been steadily rising in recent weeks. As of Friday, the confirmed cases were 177, with 43 discharged cases and 12 deaths.
In a broadcast to people of the state also on Friday, the governor, Nyesom Wike described the times as “abnormal times and moments like this call for subdued feelings and thankful prayers to God.”
He said the lives that have been lost to Covid-19 are very painful. “For us, every life matters; and every life lost is a monumental tragedy, not only to the immediate families, but also, to all of humanity.”
He regretted that despite government’s efforts to curb the spread of the virus, many residents of the state have been flouting the regulations put in place by government and risking their lives and those of others by their actions.
“And it is most unfortunate that the speed and vigour of our emergency response measures have not succeeded in stopping this virus from spreading in our State.
“The reality therefore, is that we must all accept to live with this virus and its consequences until an effective vaccine is discovered,” he said.
Wike believed to have taken some extreme measures to ensure that the virus did not spread to his state was obviously very bitter about the disobedience of the people to the guidelines and his efforts when he said, “Believe it or not, the transmission of this pandemic depends on our own individual behaviour, actions or inactions.”
He then admonished them saying, “We must therefore all strive to help ourselves, our families, our communities and our State by complying religiously with the laid down regulations and advisories on social distancing and wearing of facemasks.”