YENAGOA, Nigeria, Sept 7 (Reuters) – The governor of Rivers State in Nigeria’s oil-producing Delta region said he may be forced to reimpose COVID-19 lockdown measures if residents did not comply with prevention protocols amid a rise in cases.
Governor Nyesom Wike implored residents to get vaccinated and comply with safety and social distancing rules amid a consistent rise in COVID-19 infections over the past two weeks.
“We may be constrained to re-impose the suspended COVID-19 lockdown measures across the state if the transmission of the disease continues to increase beyond tolerable limits,” Wike said in an address on Monday. Wike shared a copy of the speech with Reuters on Tuesday.
Rivers state capital Port Harcourt is the gateway to the Delta region. Movement restrictions last year impinged on oil companies’ ability to move workers around the region and forced some to delay or curtail maintenance.
The state’s 10,809 confirmed COVID-19 cases make it the third worst-hit state in Africa’s most populous country, after Lagos and the federal capital territory of Abuja.
On August 26, the state recorded 263 cases – the highest daily count since March 2020. The state has also recorded a total of 137 deaths.
Wike also appealed to religious leaders and churches to encourage their members to get vaccinated and comply with the COVID-19 protocols.
Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, is battling a third wave of COVID-19 infections. The country began its vaccination campaign in March with nearly 4 million doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca shots provided via the COVAX scheme, and has since received millions more doses of AstraZeneca and Moderna shots. However it has also struggled with vaccine hesitancy.