A Community leader in Anambra, Chief James Uyamadu, says most rural dwellers in Anambra have yet to come to terms with the reality of COVID-19 spread in the state.
Uyamadu said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), on Sunday in Igbakwu, Ayamelum Local Government Area of Anambra.
NAN reports that Ayamelum is an agrarian clan in Anambra and predominantly rural.
The community leader said that the state Task Force committee on COVID-19 needed to step up its enforcement measures jointly with communities if the virus must be contained within the state.
“This time should not be business as usual because we have got a challenge in our hands, which if we fail to face squarely may wipe out the people of the state.
“There is need for government to keep a close eye on the activities of the COVID-19 task force team, so that they are made to be on their beats for greater results,” he said.
Uyamadu said that a high level of ignorance of the reality of the deadly virus among rural dwellers existed adding that vigorous sensitisation needed to be given to them through various channels.
“It is a feat that needs to be tackled fast before the wild spread of the virus gets into the communities of the state and wipe out the residents.
“The churches, kindred meetings, age grade meetings, among other channels are required to be engaged well for a high positive result to be achieved,” he said.
Uyamadu said that ignorance of the existence of the virus among the people especially the rulers dwellers would remain a major factor responsible for community transmission if not checked.
“As a catechist in Saint Mary’s Catholic Church, Igbakwu, I have had various encounters with people and with my interactions with them, majority of the rural dwellers believe that Coronavirus does not exist.
“Across the state, common belief of the people is that the issue of the Coronavirus does not exist.
“To them, it is a scam and a platform for siphoning the nation’s wealth by the government,” he said.
“Government should help matters and operate in a very open manner as well as create awareness against stigmatisation and explain how the virus moves.
“This is important so that people who contract it will not be seen as evil persons,” he said.
He said that the traditional ruler of the community, in his efforts to support government on the fight against the virus, had continued to use local town criers to inform the people about their parts in the fight.
Uyamadu urged religious leaders to dwell more on informing the people about the existence of the virus in the state and the need for them to observe the precautionary measures to avoid the spread in the communities.
“The relaxed measures do not imply non existence of the virus. This must be drummed into the ears of the people in the manner they would understand,” he said.
Uyamadu also said that the community leaders should educate the people on the COVID-19 law and advise them to strictly observe the rules and regulations put in place by the governments.
He said observation of social distancing, hand washing with soap and running water, use of sanitisers, as well as the use of face masks should be well talked about.
He urged religious leaders to keep a service at a time which should last for only one hour while burial rites performers should keep to the 30 persons per gathering rule.
Uyamadu said that more stringent measures needed to be applied for huge success to be achieved in the fight against COVID-19.