By Adekola Afolabi
The Ondo state governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, has explained why he directed the reopening of religious activities across the state starting from today, Friday.
Governor Akeredolu had on Wednesday during his weekly media briefing on the latest development on COVID-19 pandemic in the state, held at the Government House, Akure, directed the resumption of all religious activities in the state in a syndicated and guided manner.
According to the governor, only Friday for Jumat services for Muslim faithfuls and Sunday services for Christian faithfuls are allowed while other daily programmes within the week were not yet approved for take off.
He said the latest development was a deliberate effort by government to ameliorate the total lockdown of religious activities, just as he admonished religious leaders and relevant stakeholders to ensure strict compliance with the protocols for COVID-19 prevention, including observing social and physical distancing, washing of hands, using of nose masks amongst others in the places of worship.
The governor, however, warned that any church, mosque or worship centre which fails to obey the simple rule will be shut down immediately, adding that government would continue to take actions to relieve the people of the pressures and pains inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
While expressing government’s concern over the spiritual and psychological wellbeing of the people, governor Akeredolu noted that there is no gainsaying that religious worship appears to be the last hope of both the high and low in our society as it is the common leveller for all of us before God, the creator of heaven and earth.
“Religious leaders and administrators must ensure strict compliance with the social and physical distancing in the places of worship. In the case of churches, not more than three people are expected to sit on a pew, while the equivalent applies to the sitting positions in the mosques and other worship centres as well.
“Water and soap must be provided at all entries into the centres or halls of worship. All worshipers must be made to wash their hands in the standard pattern approved and practised since the beginning of the pandemic.
“Hand sanitizers must be provided and used by each worshipper at every entry point to the centres and at other convenient points within the premises. All worshippers and workers inside the centres and within the premises must wear face masks properly for the duration of the service.
“Churches, Mosques and other religious centres must regularly decontaminate and sanitise the premises, facilities and equipment before and after the services.
On the latest development on COVID-19 in the state, Governor Akeredolu explained that four new cases have been added to the 20 cases earlier recorded in the state, saying that out of the total twenty-four confirmed cases, nineteen cases have been discharged after treatment, with two deaths recorded while there are only three cases on admission receiving treatment at the Infectious Diseases Hospital (IDH), Akure.
“Among the additional four, only one was a case of interstate importation. It was a case of an individual of northern Nigeria extraction who travelled from Sokoto state to Ondo state. The second, third and fourth cases were those of community transmission.
“While the second case was discovered at Oluwatuyi Quarters, Akure and reported by the Federal Medical Centre Annex, Akure, the third case is an official of the Nigerian Correctional Services who is resident in Ijoka road, Akure. His case was reported by the University of Medical Sciences Teaching Hospital Akure complex.
“The fourth case was presented to the General Hospital Igbara Oke as a regular patient of flu, fever, cough and other symptoms similar to those of COVID-19. He died the same night he was brought to the hospital. Not leaving things to chances, our health workers ensured the corpse was tested for COVID-19 and the result came back positive. The corpse has since been buried in his hometown, Iragbiji, Osun State”, he added.
Also at the briefing, the Chairman Inter-ministerial Committee on COVID-19 in the state and Commissioner for Health, Dr. Wahab Adegbenro, revealed that government has tested 432 people in the state while 156 contacts are currently being followed.