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The Chairman of the five-man Rivers State Inter-ministerial Committee on COVID-19 Public Enlightenment, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, has called for selflessness on the part of message purveyors in the quest to prevent the Coronavirus from entering the state.
Making the call, yesterday, in an address to environmental health officers in the state, preparatory to the commencement of Coronavirus campaign to traders in markets and car parks in the state, Nsirim urged them to do their best in ensuring that the populace becomes aware of what is required of them to be in good stead to protect themselves from infection.
Nsirim, who is also the state Commissioner for Information and Communications, told the staff of the Ministry of Environment that the campaign was part of the new strategy of the committee towards creating necessary awareness on Coronavirus infection prevention in the state.
“Part of our new strategy is to ensure that everyone living in Rivers State gets this prevention message. Towards this end, we’ve agreed that the Ministry of Environment will play a very critical role because of your professional training and confidence, especially as it relates to health behaviour”, he said.
He urged them to go “to the markets, in the first instance, and also go to the parks, just to ensure that people know what they should do as it concerns this virus, especially as it has to do with hand washing, how to also maintain social distancing, how people should practice good respiratory hygiene, and then our social behaviour – handshakes and hugging”.
He explained that considering the manner in which the virus is contacted and the speed with which it is spread, Governor Nyesom Wike deemed it necessary to adopt preventive measures at this stage that the state was still free of the virus.
“What His Excellency is doing at this time is to ensure prevention, complete prevention. A lot of measures are being put in place as it has to do with churches, all the public (car) parks, no more burials, no more weddings. All is designed to ensure that Rivers State is safe.
“We’re believing that as you go and pass this message, our state will be Coronavirus-free. It is a patriotic call. The truth of the matter is, if we don’t do anything to prevent it, if anything happens to one person here, Rivers State will be in danger”, he stated.
He urged the volunteers and staffers to see the task as part of their contribution to help protect the lives of others, as patriotic citizens.
Lending credence to the chairman’s call, the Commissioner for Environment, Dr Igbiks Tamuno, reminded members of staff of the ministry to view it as their contribution in the fight against the virus.
“Everybody in the ministry (of Environment) is involved, irrespective of your level or status. The Permanent Secretary is involved, I am involved, and every other officer is involved. So, do not say you’re a level 16 officer, please. Coronavirus has no respect for position”, he said.
He continued that “Everybody knows the most important things to say: respiratory hygiene, when you have to cough, you cough into your sleeve, most importantly, keep as much distance as possible”.
The essence, he explained, is to ensure that the drop lets through which the virus gets to other people does not go as far as reaching them.
“It’s for us to try as much as we can to reduce the risk. For now, there’s nobody in Port Harcourt that we know that is infected. So, what we’re doing is to ensure that the infection does not come, or if it ever comes, it is restricted. That is what we want to do”, he said.
The exercise, expected to last up to Friday, will be climaxed with street-to-street campaign.
Highlights were the distribution of fliers and handbills to both traders and customers by volunteers, who were over 100 in number, and majorly environmental officers.
They were armed with handbills and megaphones as they visited Illoabuchi Electronic Shops at Mile 2, Diobu, Rumuwoji Market at Mile 1, Mile 3 Market, and Abali Park to enlighten the citizenry.
In their response, some residents of Port Harcourt metropolis commended the Rivers State Government on the sensitization campaign designed to check the spread of Coronavirus.
The residents, which include market women, traders and workers, said the campaign will help enlighten the people about the deadly virus.

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