The Enugu State Government on Monday said it would engage the services of soldiers to enforce the compulsory use of face masks in the state.
The government said it was necessary for the government to adopt the new strategy as some residents of the state still believe the virus is a scam.
The Expert Medical Advisory Committee, EMAC, headed by its chairman, Prof. Emmanuel Ejim, said Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi was concerned that people were dying mysteriously in the state and attributed the deaths to COVID-19 and not malaria as claimed by some people.
Prof. Ejim said the virus was killing people in Nigeria, including Enugu State, hence the need for the governor to set up the committee to offer advice on the de-escalation of the outbreak which number of infected persons had spiked in the state.
The committee explained that the government was talking with the General Officer Commanding, GOC, 82 Division, Nigerian Army, Enugu, to authorise the engagement of soldiers to enforce the preventive measure, particularly, wearing of face mask as “the police have not been helpful, especially in the metropolis”.
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Ejim lamented that of state’s current 261 positive cases, over 70 of them were health workers, representing about 25% of the number, saying “the ongoing hand hygiene activities that were being adhered to initially are slowly slumping into the complacent neglect. The nonchalance, non compliance is worrisome; the outbreak should be of serious concern to the citizens. Covid-19 is killing us, it is with us, it is killing us, it is everywhere, people are dying of covid-19 not malaria. Enugu needs at least three testing centres with one located in Nsukka.”
According to him, EMAC had engaged with people of different sectors in the state, including the Church, market leaders, transport unions down to the local government council level saying: “interestingly, the knowledge of the existence of COVID-19 was not in doubt, but the commitment and capacity to enforce the necessary preventive action specifically the wearing of face masks, observing physical distancing and ensuring hand hygiene were all being undermined by several factors that we continue to unearth.”