Covid-19: Ogun suspends reopening of places of worship




In view of the rising Covid-19 cases in Ogun state, Gov Dapo Abiodun on Friday announced the suspension of further ease of lockdown which would have allowed places of worship in the state to open for services.

Gov Abiodun had during his press briefing on Covid-19 updates in the state two weeks ago disclosed that plans were in top gear together with the religious bodies to ensure gradual opening of places worship from Friday, June 19.

The governor however said that given the alarming increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in the state in the last two weeks and the unwillingness of the residents of the state to comply with Covid-19 health guidelines, the goverment, just as it has also been counselled by some religious leaders would for now put on hold opening of places of worship until situation of things improves.

Addressing the journalists at his Oke Mosan office, Abeokuta, Gov Abiodun explained that for instance, the state in the last two weeks recorded 270 Covid-19 cases as against 316 cases it had for over three months, that is, from Feb 27 to June 4, 2020 representing 85% increase.

The governor disclosed further that during this period also, 147 Covid-19 patients were discharged bringing the total number of discharged to 316 with six recorded death bringing the total number of death to 15.

Gov Abiodun said the implication of this statistics was that community transmission of this dreaded virus was on the increase.

The governor regretted that "in spite of the spirited efforts of the government to create awareness about the deadly nature of the pandemic and the guidelines in place to flatten the curve of the spread, the compliance level of our people is still very much below expectation. Many are yet to appreciate that there is a new normal that demands a new way of life that is not optional and is also an individual responsibility in the final analysis".

Abiodun emphasised that the figures of the dead from COVID-19 related complications or the sick may appear to many as just mere statistics, but to those who are directly impacted, these are not just numbers, but caring spouses, loving fathers or mothers, sisters, brothers and cherished relatives saying that this only confirmed that COVID-19 is real, and we have a collective and individual responsibility to work together to tame it – through compliance with the guidelines

The governor said "in my last briefing, we were considering a tentative date of Friday, 19th June, 2020 to further ease the restrictions and allow gradual opening of places of worship on Fridays and Sundays. Towards this end, we have had robust engagements with the religious leaders – Christian Association of Nigeria and the League of Imams and Alfas.

" I must thank them for their forthrightness, cooperation and even appreciation that the curve of the spread of the pandemic is worsening and that places of worship represent most potent fertile grounds for the spread of the deadly virus.

"After a careful review of the data, feedback from the field, expert opinions, and lessons from far and near, two major conclusions are very clear and obvious to all: first, the COVID-19 situation in Ogun State and indeed in the country as a whole has not improved since the last update; secondly, there are dire consequences in loss of human lives for premature relaxation of the guidelines, necessitating a rollback of the relaxation in a number of states and countries. Unfortunately, guidelines may be rolled back, the lost human lives cannot be rolled back.

"Consequently, we are confronted with two choices – yield to the demand of those who want the restrictions to be further relaxed or even completely removed, even if this is at variance with the dictates of incontrovertible data analysis and scientific opinion; or tow the path that preserves public health and safety, even if not so popular.

"As a responsible administration, we choose life and the wellbeing of our citizens and are therefore constrained to take the painful but necessary decision to maintain the current regime of eased lockdown in the meantime. We are consequently suspending our initially slated reopening of places of worship.

"Let me thank some of our religious leaders who by themselves advised us that this is the best decision that we should take at this time in the best interest of all of us. This is not an easy decision, but we are confident that the wisdom and scientific basis for this decision will become clearer to those who may have initial misgivings about it.

" Since the advent of this pandemic in our State, our cautious, methodical, data-driven and scientifically supported approach has ensured not only comparably superior outcomes, we have also not had reasons to reverse our decisions, because our decisions are usually well thought out.
usual, we will continue to monitor the situation and developments and will not hesitate to review and adjust the guidelines accordingly, as may be required.

" Our objective is to preserve the welfare and wellbeing of our people at all times, afterall that is the primary reason for the existence of government in the first place. In doing this, it will require tough decisions. I have no doubt that we can continue to count on the understanding and support of our people in this joint war against an invisible enemy which turn wives to widows and children to orphans".

The governor revealed that all existing guidelines to combat COVID-19 in the State subsisted with total lockdown on Saturdays and Sundays.

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