NIGERIA RELEASES COVID-19 GUIDE TO RE-OPEN PLACES OF WORSHIP
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) continues to lead the public health response to the COVID-19 outbreak in Nigeria. Following the review of recent restriction measures by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, NCDC has developed new guidelines for places of worship in Nigeria. This is to ensure safe gatherings and prevent exposures to COVID-19 infection in religious settings.
On the 2nd of June 2020, 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.
In several countries, COVID-19 outbreaks have been linked to large gatherings, including religious and non-religious gatherings. To reduce the risk of infection in places of worship, NCDC offers the following guidance:
• There should be no entry without facemasks. 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 sanitizers should be provided at point
of entries and strategic points
• Attendance at religious settings should not exceed 1/3 of sitting capacity
• Religious centres should be clearly marked such that people sit and maintain two metres distance from each other
• There should be no form of direct contact. Practices such as handshakes as peace signs are discouraged
• Practices that require sharing of materials should be limited. For example, ablution should be performed at home
• Religious centres should be disinfected routinely, before and after worship
The guidelines developed by NCDC provides additional requirements to ensure that places of worship are safe. This can be downloaded via this link. The NCDC continues to work with states to provide technical assistance and resources to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of Nigerians.
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.