In furtherance of efforts being made to prevent Coronavirus infection in Rivers State, the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, has called on those in the hospitality business, particularly hotels, to ensure that they take the fight against the virus serious.

A statement by Soibi Max-Alalibo, SA Media to the Hon Commissioner
Ministry of Information and Communications, disclosed that Pastor Nsirim, who was speaking on April 15, 2920, as guest to a sensitisation progrmme on COVID-19 prevention, organised by the State Chapter of the Hoteliers Association at the Presidential Hotel, Port Harcourt, stated that their position as a place where different people from different works of life visit regularly, makes them a conduit to infection, if they do not know of preventive measures.

While thanking the Chairman of the Hoteliers Association, Mr Eugene Nwauzi, for the initiative brought into the spreading of COVID-19 prevention messages across all the hotels in Rivers State, the Commissioner emphasised on the role expected of the industry in the fight against the Coronavirus in the State.

“Let me say that those of you in the hospitality industry have a very critical role to play in the prevention of Coronavirus in the State. A lot of people come to your hotels for one transaction or the other, sometimes to Lodge as guests.

“In this season, nobody knows who is who, and the health status of individuals that would come to your hotels. That is why it’s important that you understand how to begin to engage your customers to ensure that they don’t come and then spread the virus in your hotels”, he said.

For this purpose, the Commissioner said, a good number of handbills and fliers produced by the Ministry had been given to the Hotelier’s Association with the instruction to distribute it in suits and at their various receptions.

“I said that you should put them in the rooms, and even at the reception. So that everyone that comes into the hotel has a handbill to know the dos and don’ts as it relates to personal hygiene in this period”, he said, noting that the period calls for sacrifice on the part of everybody.

“We’re in a very critical challenging time. Your businesses will be having some impact, and that’s why if you listen to all the broadcast made by His Excellency, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, the Governor of Rivers State, he calls this season a time for sacrifice. We will not compromise the health of our people because we want to make money. It’s a sacrifice that will soon end, and our businesses will come to normal”, Nsirim said.

Towards this end, the information boss in the State charged all those in the hospitality industry to key into the agenda of the State Government, saying that the State Governor has so far shown visionary leadership in the fight against the virus in the country.

“You will see that His Excellency has shown visionary leadership since the COVID-19 outbreak in terms of prevention strategies: we’re the first State to close the boaders, close all the sea and airport, we’re the first State to set up an enlightenment committee, we’re the first to also get a committee to be purchasing food to alleviate the suffering of the people at this time”, he stated.

It’s this visionary leadership, he said, that has ensured that the State has just two cases of Coronavirus infection, since it came to the fore in the State.

He continued that “We’re believing that we won’t record more cases. So, containing the virus is actually everybody’s business. It has nothing to do with the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Information, and it has nothing to do with the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC).

“It is our collective business to ensure that Rivers State is safe. For you in the hospitality industry, don’t allow your hotels to be used as hideout for people who may have the symptoms. So, for every hotel manager here, if somebody comes into your hotel and you notice some of these symptoms, it is your patriotic duty you report it to the Ministry of Health. We have the numbers to call. All of you should be acquainted with those our telephone numbers by now, including that of the NCDC”, he said.

Earlier, Chairman of the State Chapter of the Hoteliers Association, Mr Eugene Nwauzi, had explained that the program is part of the Association’s efforts to sensitise members and staff of hotels in the State, knowing how vulnerable hotels are as key part of the hospitality industry.

Aslo speaking, the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Health, Dr Ndidi Chikanele Utchay, expressed appreciation over the effort of the Hotelier’s Association in spreading the Coronavirus prevention message.

Dr Utchay, who was represented at the occasion by Dr Esther Azi, emphasised on the importance of the hoteliers in spreading the message.

According to her, they are “a vital aspect of this fight, because we know very well that one of the measures we use in containing this virus is by submission, and we know for a fact that a lot of people turn to the hospitality industry to be able to actively and accurately carry out some activities, because it’s difficult to properly do so at home.

“So, we understand the very key role that the hospitality industry is in this fight. It is therefore very proper that we speak with you, and also get feedback on your challenges in terms of carrying out your responsibilities”, she said.

Highlight of the occasion was a presentation by Dr Juliet Sebastine, a Medical Officer of NCDC, who gave insights into what the Coronavirus is, its strength, and how to prevent its spread, with a practical example on how to wash hands, and wear face mask.

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