THE Abia State Government has said that violators of its ban on inter state travel will face 21 days of isolation as the state governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, moves to strengthen measures to further secure the state from the spread of coronavirus.
Ikepazu therefore instructed the Inter-ministerial Committee on COVID-19, the enforcement team of the state, to impound commercial vehicles operating inter-state during the lockdown, quarantine the drivers and passengers at the nearest general hospital.
In a statement, Monday, the Commissioner for Information, Chief John Okiyi Kalu disclosed that Ikpeazu ordered the isolation of the members of the family, along with those at the funeral of a man suspected to have died of Covid-19, but was sneaked into the state for burial.
He stated: “Whoever enters our state during this period of ban on inter-state movement is in breach of state and federal regulations and will have themselves to blame as the law will be applied to the fullest in order to protect the people of Abia State.”
Expressing worry over the smuggling of dead relatives into communities for burial, the government noted that recent incident in Umuahia South Local Government Area would end such incidents.
The commissioner stated, “Abia State Government has received multiple intelligence on families of Abia origin residing in states with rising cases of COVID-19 planning to bring home corpses of members suspected to have died from the virus for burial in our communities.
“This is in total violation of the prevailing ban on inter-state movement and without or approval from relevant authorities in the state.
“A family recently sneaked into the state with the corpse of their father, who allegedly died of COVID-19 in Kano and was ferried to a community in Umuahia South LGA where unsuspecting citizens have been going to mourn with them unprotected.
“On no account should any corpse from outside the state be brought into any community for burial or preservation in a mortuary without the written approval of the state or local government concerned.”
Restating that mortuaries in the state were not even permitted to handle such corpses without obtaining approval from local or state authorities, Okiyi stated that, “the mortuary operators should endeavor to report families with such corpses to the relevant authorities as they could face sanctions and isolation if they breach the directives.”
The Ministry of Homeland Security was directed to quarantine the family members, visitors and mourners while the medical rapid response collected and tested their samples.
Okiyi charged village heads, traditional rulers and community leaders to take responsibility to accost and report any person or group of persons who has come into their community from outside the state or face necessary sanctions.
Enjoying people to travel only when it is necessary, the Commissioner explained that “the partial relaxation of the lockdown in the state is not an excuse to lower guards until this pandemic is over. Government would not hesitate to re-impose full lockdown in the state, to protect the people from being infected with COVID-19.”