By Michael Adesanya/Abeokuta
Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun on Wednesday disclosed that wearing face mask is now compulsory, warning that defaulters would be jailed for six months.
Abiodun made the disclosure while addressing newsmen on the efforts made so far to curtail the spread of coronavirus in the state held at Governor’s office, Oke mosan, Abeokuta.
He disclosed that the spread of the virus is on the high in the state, hence the need to take all precautions to stem the tide.
The Governor also said there would be re-opening of schools for SS3 students on August 4 in order for them to prepare for the Senior Secondary Certificate Examination.
He disclosed all students in the state schools would enjoy automatic promotion to the next class.
He also lifted the ban on religious gathering, with resumption date tentatively slated for August 14th.
The Governor urged religious leaders to ensure that they abide by the measures mutually agreed upon and rolled out.
He noted that the state government would not hesitate to impose severe sanctions, including, but not limited to lockdown, on any worship centre that failed to comply with the laid down guidelines.
“It is important to note that all religions make provision for obedience to God and the authorities of the land.
“The Holy Qur’an stipulates in chapter 4, verse 59 that “O you who have believed, obey Allah and obey the messenger and those in authority among you.
”The same message is also preached in the Holy Bible. According to the English Standard Version (ESV), Roman 13, verses 1-7, “let everybody be subject to the governing authorities.
“Those that exist have been instituted by God… those who resist will incur judgement.
“We had continued to engage the leaderships of the two religious bodies, as represented by Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the League of Imams and Alfas on the modalities for the reopening of the religious houses.
“And, we thank them for their understanding, support and solidarity. In fact, the committee on the consideration of reopening of worship centres has been enlarged to include the Honourable Commissioners for Health; Environment; and, Physical Planning.
“This committee has continued to interface with the leadership of different religious centres at several times. I must say that this has yielded positive results.
“We now have guidelines for the reopening of our worship centres jointly developed and agreed with our religious leaders.
“This was finalised after collaborative and inclusive meeting with the religious institutional representatives and made available on Monday, July 27. It is in our collective interest to fully comply with the guidelines so that, together, we can further flatten the curve of this pandemic.
“For the avoidance of doubt, some of the elements of the guidelines are as follows: All congregants must wear their face masks appropriately (that is, No facemask, No entry). Adequate provision of running water. Worship centres should be adequately cleaned and disinfected before and after services.Household bleach solution / equivalent should be adequately prepared for disinfectations; There should be adequate provision and supervision of multiple Veronica Buckets for handwashing (fully automated handwashing machines are preferable);
“There should be provision of alcohol-based sanitiser which must be used before and after service; Worship centres should provide adequate toilet facilities with water.
“Muslims are advised to perform ablution at home and go to Mosque with their personal praying mats;
Qualified Medical Practitioners or trained personnels should check the temperature of worshippers with infrared thermometer before allowing them to enter worship centres; There should be adequate medical support for sick persons; All services on Friday/Sunday and other week days must adhere strictly to COVID-19 Guidelines.
“There should be pre-designated standing position/sitting points to ensure not less than 2 meter distancing. The duration of religious services should not be more than one and a half hours. In addition, same duration of one and a half hours must be observed as intervals, where there are multiple services. The use of Air-conditioners should be discouraged while worship centres should be well ventilated with the use of fans. There should not be any handshake/hugs by worshippers. Proper awareness of the susceptibility of the aged and people with signs of ill-health should be adequately created among worshippers at all times.
“Constant sensitisation of COVID-19 and its dangers should be included in sermon and goodwill messages; Provision of isolation rooms is mandatory in all worship centres or facilities; Religious services and events should be recorded with digital camera for record purposes. Worship Centres and facilities with more than 200 worshippers in a given service must further seek concurrence with the State Government committee;
“At all times, there should be adequate ventilation and effective Entry & Exit Management Procedure in each of the Worship Centres. Administration of holy communion should be devoid of sharing of any item and must follow COVID-19 protocols”, he stated.
Giving the breakdown on the current cases in the state, Abiodun said, ” It is worrisome the number of fatalities continues to rise especially in the last four weeks. This has risen to 868. In our home State, it is also a fact that the number of cases of COVID-19 is on the upward swing, particularly in the last few weeks of the second phase of our ease of the restrictions and opening up of more sectors of our economy.
“As at the same 26th July, COVID-19 figures in Ogun State are: we have screened over 10,000; we have also tested 5,611 people; we have 1,318 confirmed cases; out of which 1, 054 have been successfully treated; but, I must also say that we have regrettable cases of 23 fatalities; while we still have 224 receiving medical attention. We will continue to intensify efforts and enlarge our screening capacity so that we can identify infected people for prompt treatment and resultantly flatten the curve”.
“We must admit that by available statistics, community transmission of the pandemic is increasing on daily basis. What makes it more worrisome is that many carriers are asymptomatic and this is putting our public health and safety at a higher risk, thus demanding that we must take personal responsibility.
“To this end, I urge our people to continue to take personal responsibility by adhering to the precautionary measures as enunciated by the World Health Organisation, Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and the National Centre for Disease Control. We should ensure personal compliance and that of our loved ones”.