By Jethro Ibileke/Benin
Edo State will blaze the trail on Wednesday when it begins to deny civil servants and others who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 access to the state secretariat and other government facilities.
According to Permanent Secretary of the State Ministry of Health, Dr. Osamwonyi Irowa, civil servants and others will henceforth be allowed into government premises consequent upon presentation of proof of COVID-19 vaccination.
Irowa who spoke to journalists in Benin on Tuesday said the move is a part of intensified efforts to contain the pandemic and protect the majority of Edo citizens against the deadly virus, following progressive rise in the number of infections and mortalities in the State.
Recall that the State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, had earlier warned that government will begin enforcement of restrictions on large public gatherings for persons without evidence of COVID-19 vaccination with government offices across the State, from the second week of September.
Speaking to journalists during the state’s daily press briefing on COVID-19 at the Government House in Benin City, Irowa said: “The first phase of the enforcement, which begins tomorrow, September 15, is targeted at State government facilities.
“If you have to enter the State Secretariat and other government offices, you must have your vaccination cards; we are going to implement this in all the key areas to ensure that we don’t have people being infected because the other person is proving difficult.”
“Those that cannot provide their COVID-19 vaccination cards may have to excuse us and be working from home, pending when a decision will be reached. As a state, we are doing everything possible to make sure that people don’t get infected.
“We are appealing to our people to get vaccinated because that is the more suitable way to prevent the severity of the disease and avoid death. The enforcement teams will commence tomorrow to help us reduce the number of cases and deaths that we are recording daily,” he added.
On his part, the Head of COVID-19 Enforcement Team, Mr. Yusuf Haruna, said the government has trained 20 special teams spread across the state to commence the enforcement of no-vaccination, no-entry into government-owned facilities.
He said: “As we all know, the government has the responsibility of protecting the lives and property of citizens. In view of this, we have trained 20 special teams that will be spread across the 18 local government areas of the state.
“They will commence this enforcement from the 15th of September, 2021. What we expect our people to do is that, while going to work, they should go with their vaccination cards. The government is not forcing anybody to take the vaccines, but it has the responsibility to tell you not to spread the virus.
“What we are going to do tomorrow is to grant those who have the authentic vaccination cards access to their government working places and those without the cards can go back and work from home.
“These 20 special teams will be saddled with the responsibility of scanning and confirming the authenticity of these vacation cards and also diligently asking those who don’t have to go and work from home. This is the directive of the state government and it will be enforced to the letter.”
The State has so far recorded 1,034 confirmed cases and 53 fatalities in the third wave of the pandemic, with about 20 new deaths of persons who were not inoculated with the vaccines in the last four days.
With a progressive rise in test positivity rate in the past nine weeks, young people less than 50 years old account for over 73.1 percent of total confirmed cases in Edo, while unvaccinated persons account for over 98 percent of all fatalities recorded in the State.