The governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, is considering another lockdown as the state witnesses a surge in the number of COVID-19 cases.
The total number of infections in the state is 3,398 as of December 28, the sixth-highest in Nigeria. The number of deaths from COVID-19 in the state is 64.
The total number of confirmed cases in the state as of May 24 was 116. Seven months after, the state has recorded over 3,000 new cases.
“I have allowed the church to be worshipping with this number because I am a Christian. But I can tell you before the end of the year so many stringent measures will be taken, we are going to shut down,” Mr Wike said at a church service in Ikwerre Local Government Area of the state.
The governor said ”people in churches, markets and other public places were no longer adhering to COVID-19 requirements and protocols because most of them think it is not real”.
“It’s not real because it has not happened to you; nobody had died whom you know. When somebody has died and the person was close to you, you will know that COVID is real,” he said.
“If you don’t comply, I have no choice, but to shut down the churches; Pentecostal, Catholic, Anglican. I have no choice, because when you have it, who spends the money? It is the state that treats. So, we need to use the money for some other things, but not for this. Let us discipline ourselves and know that COVID is real.”
Mr Wike has been outstanding in his hard, and sometimes controversial, fight against the coronavirus in the oil-rich state.
He has had clashes in the past with the federal government and international oil companies because of this.
Pilots, crew members, and the passengers – oil workers – aboard a flight belonging to Caverton Helicopters Ltd were arrested and charged in April on the orders of Mr Wike for flying into the state after the state government barred vehicles and flights from entering the state.
The state government later sealed up Carveton Helicopters facilities in the state.
Twenty-two ExxonMobil workers were arrested in April for entering Rivers State in violation of a lockdown order. They were later released because the state was not willing to press charges against them.
The Rivers government in May caused a nationwide outrage when it demolished two hotels in the state for allegedly flouting COVID-19 order in the state.
Mr Wike once said that COVID-19 is “worse than a conventional war”.
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