Gov. Douye Diri on Tuesday relaxed the interstate border closure ordered to check the spread of Coronavirus, COVID-19, to allow food, drugs and vehicles conveying personnel on essential duty into Bayelsa.
Mr Diri granted unfettered passage to their destinations for vehicles conveying foodstuff, medical supplies and personnel on essential services as the country grapples with containing the COVID-19 pandemic.
He announced this during an enlarged meeting with members of the state’s COVID-19 taskforce, including service commanders, labour leaders and representatives of international health organisations in Government House, Yenagoa.
The governor emphasised the need for people to have access to food items, drugs and other essential commodities as they comply with the restriction order on inter-state movement.
Mr Diri, who doubles as the state’s chairman of the COVID-19 Taskforce, said the meeting was convened to appraise the challenges faced by the taskforce and to proffer solutions.
He said the government was exploring the possibility of providing a COVID-19 testing centre in the state.
To this end, he constituted a committee headed by his deputy to assess the capacity of the Bio Resources Centre at Odi in Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area.
The Secretary to the State Government, Konbowei Benson; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Dr Inodu Apoku; the Chief Medical Director, Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital, NDUTH, Prof. Dimie Ogoina, and former Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Tonye Isenah, are to serve as members of the committee.
Mr Diri also directed the Bayelsa State Electricity Company to provide a dedicated electricity line to the NDUTH to enhance service delivery.
The governor equally directed that all council chairmen should henceforth operate from the headquarters of their respective local government areas and charged them to step up surveillance efforts at all marine and land borders.
He urged them to do more in creating awareness about the virus in local languages.
Mr Diri, while acknowledging the donation of the United Bank for Africa to the state government, called on other corporate bodies and public spirited individuals to emulate the gesture as government had opened a COVID-19 Support Account for intending donors.
He also directed the taskforce to go round petrol stations to ensure compliance with the presidential directive on the N125 per litre pump price of fuel.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transport, Ere Efeke, recounted efforts by his ministry at enforcing social distancing in public transportation in the state.
The eight council chairmen, who spoke at the meeting, however said that there was no confirmed case of the virus in their domains.
In his contribution, the NDUTH Chief Medical Director said the hospital has put in place a COVID-19 Emergency Response Plan with 13 teams on various aspects of response.
Mr Ogoina solicited volunteers from members of the public to support health workers in the event of an outbreak of the virus, noting that they have already built the capacity of staff to manage such cases.