Akwa Ibom State Government has described as worrying the smuggling of corpses from other states especially Lagos State into the State despite the inter-state lockdown order still in force.
The Commissioner for Health, Dr. Dominic Ukpong said the corpse which was being smuggled into the state through Ika Local Government Area of the state had been safely deposited in a mortuary, pending the confirmation of its COVID-19 status.
Ukpong who spoke while addressing the COVID-19 Incident Management Committee, (IMC) on Monday noted that all the contacts that came with the transporting ambulance were being quarantined.
He said that any such corpse when intercepted would be buried in accordance with the protocol for the burial of an infected corpse and all contacts quarantined.
While acknowledging that in some traditions, it was mandatory to bury the dead in their homelands Ukpong said, ” but the current global war against the COVID-19 pandemic did not allow for such to be practicable.
“It is disheartening that despite the interstate lockdown, family members can risk such adventure because such trips usually require the use of bush paths in order to beat security checks on the highways”
He said he had sought the cooperation of Health Commissioners in other States in the bid to stall the movement of corpses into and through their States, stressing that the trend necessitated co-opting of community youths/ vigilantes to compliment the efforts of the police officers and other security personnel on the highways.
The health commissioner called on members of the public to support the government in the fight against COVID-19 by shunning all unwholesome activities and urged all Medical Superintendents to mandate their morticians to report every corpse brought in from outside the state.
He extended the appreciation of the state governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel to the state COVID-19 Incident Management Committee for its tireless efforts in the battle to stem the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
Responding, Deputy Incidence Manager, Dr. Godfrey Akro, commended the state government for providing the enabling environment and support for the committee in the fight against COVID-19 and assured that the committee would always encourage the commitment of the state government towards the development of the health sector through dedication and hard work.