Following the spike in COVID-19 cases nationwide, the Imo state Governor Hope Uzodinma has threatened to order a second and complete lockdown in Imo state if residents continue to disregard and take for granted the safety protocols being put in place by the state government to contain the spread of the virus.
Addressing newsmen at the government house in Owerri on Friday, the Governor expressed displeasure over the nonchalant attitude of residents to the existence of COVID-19.
He said based on its determination to protect and safeguard the lives of Imo people from the dreaded virus, the government will begin aggressive enforcement of safety protocols such as mandatory use of face masks in public and hand sanitizers as well as the prohibition of gathering above 50 persons including religious gatherings.
He warned that anyone found violating government directives will be charged to a mobile court and if found guilty will be sentenced to jail or pay a fine.
“The penalty for not wearing face masks is a maximum jail term of six months or N20,000 in lieu,” Uzodinma said.
“The Executive Order further provides that any gathering of more than 50 persons anywhere in the state is an offense. The conveners of such gatherings also risk six months in prison or N20,000 in lieu.
“I must make it absolutely clear that if our people choose instead to continue to deceive themselves, that coronavirus does not exist, and continue to go about without wearing face masks and without observing the safety protocols, I will be forced to review the situation in coming weeks.
“If it is clear from the realities on the ground that extra or more stringent measures must be taken to keep our people safe, I will have no choice but to authorize a second lockdown of the state.”
Imo State reported five new cases of the virus on Friday, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.
The state has a total of 917 confirmed cases and 17 deaths since the NCDC started compiling its data last February.