Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State has banned the celebration of the dead in the state to prevent the dreaded Ebola Disease Virus, just less than 24 hours after President Goodluck Jonathan called on Nigerians to be mindful of burial ceremonies to avoid the spread of the virus.
Okorocha also banned the entry of citizens and individuals from countries hit by Ebola Virus, saying anybody coming from the affected West African Countries would no longer be allowed to enter into the state irrespective of the person’s tribe or country of origin.
Okorocha’s order targets people from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
Speaking yesterday at the one-day workshop organized for the Community Government Council (CGC) women leaders in the 27 Local Government Areas in the state, the Imo governor said celebration of corpses such as lying them in state, bringing them into the church for funeral, tossing of the corpse-bearing caskets by undertakers, unnecessary exposition of corpses, etc had now been banned in the state to prevent the people of the state from contacting the deadly disease.
He directed that henceforth, any corpse brought from the morgue or mortuary should be interred immediately without being exposed to where the people could see them because “There is no need celebrating the corpse. He is dead and can only inflict people with diseases such as this. Nobody knows where this disease came from and we must be careful how we do certain things now especially funeral ceremonies”.
Okorocha disclosed that so far, four centres had been designated to take care of any case that might arise, listing them to include General Hospitals Ihitte Uboma, Okigwe, Imo State University Teaching Hospital, Orlu and Imo Specialist Hospital, Owerri.
He however stated that Imo State under him was spiritually and physically ready to wage war against the Ebola Disease Virus.
It would be recalled that President Jonathan had during a conference organised by the Interfaith Initiative For Peace in Abuja on Monday said that about 60 per cent of the cases of the Ebola Virus Disease were transmitted during burial ceremonies.
The President had also said available reports showed that Sawyer contracted the virus during the burial of his sister which he attended. Rather than wait to be quarantined, Sawyer forced his way into Nigeria and infected others.
The President said it was imperative that people were allowed to be buried wherever they die rather than their corpses being moved from one part of the country to the other. He added that those who derived pleasure in celebrating deaths could wait until a more auspicious time when the challenge posed by the Ebola virus would have been overcome.
He expressed the belief that if the situation was managed well, it would not take the country more than two months to overcome it. Jonathan recalled a situation in his community when the corpse of a cholera victim was not handled properly and the disease ended up almost wiping out the entire community. He said rather than burying the corpse with caution, the people were celebrating the death.
The President said, “I have been having discussions with people outside and within the country since this incident happened. My conversation with the Director-General of the World Health Organisation, Mrs. Marget Chan, was quite instructive.
“She said that the spread of Ebola from analysis so far, 60 per cent was during burials. You will recall that in our announcements we pleaded that people must be mindful of burials.
“We are pleading that this is not the best period for such ceremonies. If somebody dies now, that person should be buried where he died. “When we get over this, people can exhume the remains of their loved ones if they want. Government will provide the medical examiners that will help them to exhume the remains for them to bury the way you want.
“I am saying so because I have a personal experience. In 1971, I was still in secondary school then when cholera broke out in my mother’s community, and of course those of us from Southern Nigeria celebrate death. The person who died of cholera happened to be an elderly man. So they started celebrating him for days and of course, the whole village was almost wiped out”.
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