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The Akwa Ibom government has announced a delay in the commencement of a science and technology park in the state because of the outbreak of Coronavirus in China.

The park, regarded as one of the signature projects of the current administration in the state, is a public-private partnership project between the Akwa Ibom government and a Chinese company, Blue Sea International Holdings.

Governor Udom Emmanuel had said in December during the flag-off of construction that the project would help speed up his economic agenda for the state and provide hundreds of jobs for the youth.

The Chinese company is expected to invest 500 million euros into the project which, when completed, would have a technical university, vocational training centre, and a high tech building material plant.

“The actual commencement of work on the project has been delayed following the outbreak of Coronavirus in Wuhan, Hubei province of China last year,” the Commissioner for Science and Technology in the state, Iniobong Essien, said in a statement on Tuesday.

Mr Essien said the Chinese workers who are to drive the project travelled to their country for New Year vacation and could not return to Nigeria because of the travel restrictions over Coronavirus. They were scheduled to be back in Akwa Ibom in February after the project flag-off in December.

“We are in constant touch with the management of the Chinese firm and they have affirmed their readiness to commence work at the site as soon as COVID-19 has abated and travel restrictions lifted,” the commissioner added.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has raised alarm over the spread of the virus from Asia to part of the Middle-East and Europe.

Iran’s deputy health minister and a member of the country’s parliament is said to have tested positive for the Coronavirus, according to a news report from Aljazeera.

“The virus has now infected more than 80,000 globally, killing at least 2,700,” Aljazeera reported on Tuesday.

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