Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, Rivers State Commissioner of Information and Communications

Residents of Rivers State have been advised to adhere to safety protocols, as the state is beginning to experience influx of people due to the lifting of the restrictions on inter-state movements and the resumption of flights at the Port Harcourt International Airport.

The admonition was made by the Honourable Commissioner of Information and Communications, Rivers State, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, while appearing as a guest on Viewpoint, a current affairs programme on Rhythm 93.7 FM, Port Harcourt, hosted by Segun Owolabi on Saturday, July 11, 2020.

Pastor Nsirim, who also doubles as the Chairman of Rivers State Inter-Ministerial Committee on Coronavirus Public Enlightenment, took time to outline the policies and actions of the state government on the pandemic. He also responded to some pertinent questions from some members of the public.

The Honourable Commissioner stated that His Excellency, Governor Nyesom Wike has shown effective leadership in the face of the pandemic by being proactive in containing the virus right from the onset. He said other governors are adopting the Rivers State template to combat COVID-19 in their respective states.

When asked about the resumption of flights from other places, especially Lagos which is highly impacted with about 12, 051 confirmed cases, with about 10,000 active cases, and his fears as a government and a committee, he said:

“It is very obvious that likely, the disease will be imported and that is why it is a collective responsibility. Those who are working in the airport owe this nation a duty to ensure that the relevant protocols at both entry and exit points are fully observed. And multinationals, individuals who would receive visitors and maybe staff from those heavily impacted areas, owe the state that responsibility to ensure that that relevant protocol of 14 days isolation is adhered to,” he added.

When asked whether the state government is working with the airport authorities to see that the protocol is being followed, he said:

“The Ministry of Health is properly mobilized with trained surveillance staff for this. Before these flights are coming in, other flights have been coming in, chartered flights have been coming in. Before those chartered flights come in, heath officials are always ensuring that the relevant protocols are followed before those people are allowed into the state.
The state Ministry of Health are fully mobilized for it.”

On the issue of the growing call for the reopening of the market, he said the government is working out modalities to reopen the markets in line with COVID-19 safety protocols. He appealed to the people to exercise patience and cooperate with the government because the Wike-led administration wants to flatten the curve as soon.

Pastor Paulinus Nsirim also revealed that the enlightenment committee just concluded sensitisation campaigns in the 23 local government areas in the state, whereby trained personnel were equipped to move from street to street to enlighten the people on preventive measures to combat the pandemic.

When asked for the correct number of congregants in church services if it was 50 or 70, he said:

“What happened was that His Excellency, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike had a review meeting with church leaders and at that meeting, it was agreed that the number be increased to 70.
The number 50 is for marriages and burials, so we don’t need to confused that.
Churches, 70 per service, but marriages and burials, 50,” he reiterated.

The Honourable Commissioner appealed to all those living and doing business in Rivers State to take responsibility to make it easier for the government to flatten the curve so that things can return to normal.

Reported by Oyaghiri-Fagbemi,

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