As the Presidential Task Force, PTF, on COVID-19, reviews restriction measures, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, on Saturday issued new guidelines for places of worship across the country, warning against any form of direct contact.
In the new guidelines signed by the Director-General of NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, practices such as handshakes as peace signs are discouraged.
According to the Agency, “practices that require sharing of materials should be limited. For example, ablution should be performed at home.”
The NCDC guidelines also demanded that religious centres be disinfected routinely, before and after worship.
It states that “there should be no entry without face masks. All attendees and religious leaders must wear a face mask. People who are sick should not go to places of worship. There should be temperature screening on entry.
“Hand washing facilities and hand sanitisers should be provided at the point of entries and strategic points, and attendance at religious settings should not exceed 1/3 of sitting capacity.”
They also demanded that religious centres be clearly marked such that people sit and maintain a two-metres distance from each other.
The NCDC guidelines also provide additional requirements to ensure that places of worship are safe.
According to Ihekweazu, other guidelines for worship places can be downloaded via NCDC website in order to reduce the risk of infection in places of worship.
He said NCDC would continue to work with states to provide technical assistance and resources to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of Nigerians.
His words: “In several countries, COVID-19 outbreaks have been linked to large gatherings, including religious and non-religious gatherings.
“In the absence of a vaccine, Nigeria and the rest of the world must depend on public health, social measures and supportive management of confirmed cases.
“We urge all Nigerians to take individual and collective responsibility by adhering to public health advice.”
On the June 2, the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 announced the relaxation of the previous ban placed on religious settings, allowing faith groups to meet while adhering to public health and social measures.