By Timothy Agbor, Osogbo
In the face of growing scourge of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in the country and West Africa sub-region, Osun state government on Saturday, August 16, 2014 barred foreigners from attending the 2014 Osun Osogbo festival slated for next week.
This step, according to the state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Sunday Akere, while addressing a press conference in Osogbo, was to ensure that the virus was not brought into the state during the celebration of the international festival.
“You are all aware of the present health challenge facing our great country and the West Africa sub-region regarding the spread of the contagious Ebola Virus Disease.
“As a responsible and responsive government, we are known for always being pro-active in such situations, hence, we have established a committee to ensure that the State of Osun does not witness any incidence of the dreaded Ebola Virus Disease and, in the case of any unforeseen occurrence, we have put measures in place to contain it and prevent its spread.
“In our effort to make sure that the dreaded virus does not find its way into our midst, government has at great pain decided to restrict the influx of tourists into the state for this year’s Osun Osogbo International Festival. What this means is that the festival, this year, will only be a low-keyed celebration”.
According to Akere, “only the traditional worshippers and well-wishers who are resident in the state will be allowed to partake in the celebration to minimise bodily contacts between persons, which is the primary mode of transmitting the virus.”
While stressing that the state government does not in any way intend to deprive the festival of its glamour or keep people away from being a part of the festivity, the commissioner noted that “government has a duty to ensure the safety of lives and good health for the people, especially in situations of mortal threats such as the one posed by the deadly Ebola virus.”
Speaking, the Consultant on Osun Osogbo Advisory Committee On Ebola Disease and the presentation of the 2014 Osun Osogbo Festival, Mr. Ayo Olumoko implored citizenry of the state to ensure that they moderate reception of visitors either from outside the country or within the country.
Also speaking, the state Commissioner for Environment and Sanitation, Professor Olubukola Oyawoye asked hoteliers to always be careful on the visitors they lodge in their hotels imploring them to avail the state government of the records of visitors in their hotels.
She said the state government has met with stakeholders in the state pleading with Osun Osogbo adherents to refrain from shaking or exchanging bodily contacts with those whom they can’t ascertain their health status.