Govt worried about breach of rules by churches, mosques

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WEEKEND’s reopening of churches and mosques in some states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has become a source of worry to the Federal Government due to the breach of guidelines.

The Federal Government last week released protocols that should form the basis of discussions between the state governments and religious leaders before the reopening of worship centres.

Although Nigeria’s COVID-19 cases continue to rise, the government decided to unlock the country to save the economy from collapse.

There are fears over what will likely happen when worship centres are reopened in Lagos and Ogun states next week.

A Presidential Task Force (PTF) source said the panel was shocked at the way protocols were shunned in Abuja, Osun and Kwara states, where religious centres were reopened at the weekend.

As opposed to the rule barring children from worship centres, many kids were allowed into churches.

In many of the centres, there was no observance of social distancing.

Many churches also extended their services beyond the one hour limit.

Many worshippers also did not use face masks while big churches retained their large members as against the advisory to operate at 60 per cent capacity.

However, many churches provided water for hand washing which many worshippers used.

Many other used temperature measurement before allowing people into their auditorium.

Worshippers were also seen filing the at attendance register provided at churches.

On Monday, Chairman of the PTF Mr. Boss Mustapha, reiterated that Nigerians remained at great risk of Coronavirus infection.

He said at the daily briefing of the agency: “We urge our religious leaders and the entire populace to adhere to the guidelines issued by the PTF and the protocols agreed by the State Governments. The PTF continues to monitor compliance nationwide.

“If everyone diligently observes the guidelines, we can collectively control the spread of the virus, and help to protect our health facilities as well as save lives”.

He added: “over the last weekend, the ease of restriction on places of worship came into focus and that it is important to note that the guidelines gave states the latitude and the opportunity to negotiate protocols that meet their peculiarities.”

He also noted that the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic had exposed the weaknesses inherent in the nation’s health care systems and the need for urgent attention.

“Within our national setting, the weaknesses inherent in our national health care systems were made glaring and needed urgent attention. Government determined immediately, to take on the lessons and to ensure that the healthcare system experienced tremendous leap in human and infrastructure development as well as policy focus, stability and direction,” he said.

The SGF said the PTF had commenced the process of introducing mental health services to the management of the COVID-19 pandemic, noting that enough priority attention had all along been devoted to the management of the health of victims and their families.

“I am pleased to inform you that PTF has commenced the process of integrating comprehensive psychological services programme into its activities. This will be for the benefit of people who are in isolation, wellbeing of their families and communities.

“In this regard, we wish to recognize the Federal Medical Centre, Jabi, FCT, for spearheading this drive, which shall inevitably assume a national dimension because of the importance of mental health”, he said.

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