The Akwa Ibom state government has intensified the fight against COVID 19 pandemic in the state with the imposition of the compulsory use of face mask by all sellers and buyers of goods in all its market in the state.

The government has, therefore, introduce the slogan “no face mask, no trading for both buyers and sellers in all markets across the state. This means that with effect from June 25, 2020 (yesterday) only buyers and sellers with face masks, would gain access to markets in the state.

The secretary to the state government and chairman, Akwa Ibom COVID-19 Management Committee, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, announced this during a meeting with leaders of traders associations across the state, Wednesday, in Uyo.

Ekuwem said the meeting became necessary following increasing reports of attempts by some suspected COVID-19 cases to infiltrate Akwa Ibom from neighbouring states. Such infiltration, he added, exposes Akwa Ibom people to more danger of the contagion, hence the need to adopt more stringent preventive measures.

He declared that every trader bringing wares into any market to sell and every buyer coming into the market to buy must be checked at the entrance to ensure their use of the facemask.

Ekuwem urged the traders’ leaders to live up to expectations in line with the confidence reposed in them by the state government, by ensuring the enforcement of the “no facemask no trading policy in their respective markets.

“Whoever does not wear a facemask should not come into the market; whether the person is a buyer or a seller, with effect from tomorrow. Ekuwem said Governor Emmanuel, being at the forefront of the fight against the scourge of Coronavirus, has earned a range of accolades for Akwa Ibom through his display of the political will through enormous investments in the health sector.

This, he said, would be more effective if traders’ leaders cooperate with the government to ensure that behaviours that aid community transmission of the virus are checked. “Make sure that in your local markets nobody comes in there to either sell or buy without a facemask because we cannot afford to have mass community transmission of COVID-19, Ekuwem charged.

The state commissioner for information, Sir Charles Udoh, stressed the need to sustain a high level of personal hygiene to stay safe in the face of the pandemic. Udoh harped on hand washing, use of hand sanitizers, proper use of facemask, washing, and ironing of the masks, and non-repetition of the disposable masks and observance of social distancing.

On behalf of the traders’ leaders, the president, Akwa Ibom Traders Association, and special assistant to the governor on traders’ matters, Akparawa Idorenyin Raphael, assured that efforts to enforce the use of facemasks and other regulations will be intensified in line with new demands by the state government.