The Bayelsa COVID-19 Task Force has emphasised strict compliance with safety protocols to halt the spike in novel coronavirus infection in Bayelsa.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Bayelsa has 245 confirmed novel coronavirus cases, with 102 active, 127 recovered and 16 dead.
Mr Freston Akpor, a member of the task force and the Permanent Secretary in the state Ministry of Information, told NAN that the state had taken steps to reduce the spread of the virus by ensuring strict compliance with safety protocols.
Akpor said that religious leaders had been told to take responsibility of their respective worship centres by ensuring compliance with all guidelines.
“This was among some of the resolutions reached at a meeting between members of the security subcommittee of the state Task Force on COVID-19 and Islamic leaders in Yenagoa.
“The meeting was necessitated by the non-observance of COVID -19 guidelines by worshippers at last Friday’s Juma’at prayers at the Arietalin Road Central Mosque and other prayer centres in the state capital.
“Social distancing, use of face masks and handwashing or use of sanitisers were not observed by worshippers,” Akpor said.
Akpor said that the guidelines including the compulsory wearing of face masks were still in force and that the task force had a duty to ensure that all religious leaders and their followers adhered to the measures.
He said that the guidelines were applicable to all worship centres and were aimed at containing the spread of the pandemic.
The permanent secretary noted that nine churches were earlier sealed and their pastors arrested for failure to adhere to the protocols.
“The task force will not hesitate to seal any worship centre that refuses to adhere to the guidelines and take stern measures against its leaders.
“The task force has ramped up its monitoring efforts to mosques on Fridays and churches on Sundays, being the only days allowed for worship in the face of the pandemic.
“The task force urged religious leaders to educate their congregation on the need to observe the measures to contain the pandemic.
“More than 20 Islamic leaders promised to keep their followers informed,” Akpor said. (NAN)