FROM the Federal Government on Tuesday came an advisory to Nigerians: If you are 55 years old and above, avoid churches and mosques.
Those with health conditions such as diabetes, cancer, HIV, among others, are also enjoined to stay at home to worship, the government added.
It noted that the advice was necessary because places of worship have been recognised as a major avenue of potential spread of Coronavirus.
The government said the protocols made available would be the baseline which the states are not expected to go below while firming up agreement with religious leaders.
Nigerians have been pressuring the government to reopen worship centres in spite of the spike in COVID-19 positive cases, leading to easing of restrictions on religious centres.
The PTF National Coordinator, Dr. Aliyu Sani, who announced the guidelines said religious centres should keep a record of attendees.
Dr. Sani said this would allow for contact tracing in the case of virus spread.
He said: “We are strongly advising vulnerable individuals such as those with underlying conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, HIV, cancer and those above the age of 55 years to please stay at home and consider remote participation or non-contact attendance.
“When we look at the death rate for persons who have died from COVID-19 in Nigeria, the case fatality rate; more than half of those that died were above the age of 50.
“Secondly, the case fatality rate if you are above the age of 50, is 17 per cent. If you are above the age of 55, it is 18 per cent. It is almost a one in five chances of dying if you catch COVID-19 and you fall within that group.
“Worshippers should be reminded not to attend in person if experiencing common symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, cough and shortness of breath or have had close contact with an infected person in the last 14 days.
“All worshippers noted to have temperature or are symptomatic should be turned back and not allowed admission.
“Places of worship should ideally keep up to date record of their staff including contact details and if possible, a record of attendees of church services for instance or a even small mosque to enable contact tracing in the event that somebody comes up positive.
“Considering the dangers posed by the pandemic, we strongly recommend that religious visits to homes by religious clerics should be discouraged.”
The national coordinator said: “It is important to note that due to the nature of religious congregations, places of worship are particularly recognised to have a major potential for spreading COVID -19 infection among worshippers and this has been clearly demonstrated in several outbreaks globally linked to religious gatherings.
“Places of worship that are unable to comply with these measures should not be allowed to operate by state governments.
“Churches are to open from 5am and shut by 8pm. Each service needs to be for a most of 1 hour with an interval of 20 minutes in-between providers to permit time for disinfection.”
He mentioned the duty pressure is not going to hesitate to close down non secular centres in the event that they fail to adjust to the protocols developed for his or her reopening.
“These tips present a baseline for the states to then develop their very own insurance policies particular to their areas relying on the prevalence of COVID-19, relying on whether or not or not persons are prone to comply with and comply absolutely.
“But we can be reviewing these tips every so often and we will certainly overview them if it appears like we’re having points as regards to this rest and I plead with the general public to know with us however extra importantly, proceed to remain secure.
“It is healthier to remain at dwelling and worship than to enter a spot of worship,” he emphasised.
Sani reminded Nigerians of the hazards posed by the virus, noting that now shouldn’t be the time to loosen up measures towards the pandemic.
“Let me make some clarifications as a result of I perceive there was plenty of concern nationwide in regards to the opening of locations of worship.
“There is little question that COVID-19 continues to be round, there isn’t a doubt that it’s safer so that you can keep at dwelling and there’s additionally little question that it’s safer so that you can worship at dwelling.
“The PTF is offering security advisory or steering within the occasion that you could improve your non secular wants and you can’t do it at dwelling however we don’t make suggestions that folks ought to go to locations of worship but when they selected to, we’re offering advisory to allow them to take action safely.
“COVID-19 has not gone away. You solely want to take a look at the numbers. We are within the exponential stage of the sickness. We have moved as a rustic proper as much as the third place in Africa and due to our inhabitants we might additionally transfer to the second place and even the primary.
“So now could be the time to proceed to take precautionary measures. Now shouldn’t be the time to loosen up. I hope I’ve made that clear.
“In view of the widespread neighborhood transmission of COVID -19, it will be significant that locations of worship function in a secure method to make sure the safety of public well being, keep away from outbreaks and safeguard the well being of susceptible members of the inhabitants.”