The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 has advised the sick and persons that are from 55yrs and above to avoid worship centres and large gatherings.
The PTF stated this in the guidelines it issued for states to follow in discussions with religious leaders before the reopening of churches and mosques for worshippers.
The PTF National Coordinator, Dr. Aliyu Sani, who announced the guidelines also urged worshippers experiencing common symptoms of COVID-19 to stay away from churches and mosques.
He said: “We are strongly advising vulnerable individuals such as those with underlying conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, HIV, cancer and those above the age of 55 years to please stay at home and consider remote participation or non-contact attendance.”
“When we look at the death rate for persons who have died from COVID-19 in Nigeria, the case fatality rate; more than half of those that died were above the age of 50.
“Secondly, the case fatality rate if you are above the age of 50, is 17 per cent. If you are above the age of 55, it is 18 per cent. It is almost a one in five chances of dying if you catch COVID-19 and you fall within that group.”
“Worshippers should be reminded not to attend in person if experiencing common symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, cough and shortness of breath or have had close contact with an infected person in the last 14 days.”
“All worshippers noted to have temperature or are symptomatic should be turned back and not allowed admission.”
The PTF further urged religious centres to keep records of attendees in order to allow for contact tracing in the case of virus spread.
Dr. Sani added: “Places of worship should ideally keep up to date record of their staff including contact details and if possible, a record of attendees of church services for instance or even small mosque to enable contact tracing in the event that somebody comes up positive.”
“Considering the dangers posed by the pandemic, we strongly recommend that religious visits to homes by religious clerics should be discouraged.”
The national coordinator noted that the guidelines are necessary due to the nature of religious congregations, as places of worship are particularly recognised to have a major potential for spreading COVID -19 infection among worshippers and this has been clearly demonstrated in several outbreaks globally linked to religious gatherings.