By Doris Obinna
A delegation from the Lagos State Government led by the Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi and the Director General of the Lagos State Safety Commission, Mr. Lanre Mojola visited the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) at the weekend to inspect facilities at the church for COVID-19 safety and prevention protocols compliance in preparation for the funeral of it late founder, Prophet Temitope Joshua.
Abayomi in a statement on Sunday explained that the inspection and meeting with Church officials is in line with the third wave mitigation strategy of the state government to prevent the importation and spread of new deadly strains of COVID-19 into Lagos and Nigeria.
While noting that the late Prophet is a prominent person with large congregation and followers from around the world, the Commissioner said the funeral rites would expectedly attract people from within and outside Nigeria who will deem it fit to come pay their last respect to the clergy.
He further explained that the state government considers the funeral activities at SCOAN an important event enough to ensure strict compliance to COVID-19 safety protocols to prevent the importation, transmission or spread of the newly deadly strains of COVID-19 infection to the state or country.
Abayomi added that the inspection and meeting with officials of SCOAN is at the behest of the governor who directed that SCOAN be given all the support required to host the funeral programme for it late founder under strict COVID-19 prevention protocol to limit any possibilities of introduction of foreign COVID-19 variants among the congregation and by extension to the community.
He said: “On behalf of the state government we want to offer our deep condolences to the family of the prophet and members of the congregation. In these very precarious times that we are in, with a global pandemic that is evolving dynamically; what we now know is that there are different strains of the virus circulating around the world, and Lagos state has a very strong third wave prevention strategy.
“The likely cause of a third wave is going to be an importation from visitors who are infected with the virus, so we are particularly careful about working with the Synagogue to make sure that we have a collaboration that will reduce the opportunity to zero of us either importing a virus or even allowing someone who is positive to interact with the community.
“So we have had series of engagements with the officials and executive of SCOAN, we are also in touch with the Federal Government; the Presidential Steering Committee and the Federal Ministry of Health.
“And the Incident Commander, Babajide Sanwo-Olu has said that this is a priority event and we have to ensure that we give SCOAN all the support it requires to make sure that the series of planned events for the funeral scheduled between the July 5 to 11, are performed under the strictness guidelines to limit any possibilities of introduction of foreign COVID-19 variants amongst the congregation or the movement of the virus in such an environment that would make transmission easier.”
“So, we’ve engaged with several stakeholders, we are looking at the airport, we are looking at the land borders, we are looking at event preceding the five or seven days of the funeral, we are looking at the funeral activities itself, we have a detailed account of the programme, we are putting some guidelines in place.
“Any visitor coming into the country has to go through the mandatory seven days of isolation plus testing before they can participate in any of the activities. We’ve inspected all the accommodation, we’ve looked at the auditorium and we’ve calculated how to completely eliminate the chance and the risk of infectious transmission,” the Commissioner stated.
While noting that there are some areas of infection prevention protocols that needed strengthening in the church, Abayomi assured that those areas would be strengthened before and during the funeral activities.
He added that biosecurity and safety experts will also be on ground to work with the local organizing committee to monitor and ensure safety of attendees.
He said: “In collaboration with the Lagos State Safety Commission and the Biosecurity Unit of the Ministry of Health, we’ve seen some areas that needs strengthening and been observing these for some days now and we are strengthening the protocols, so that as events are leading up to the seven days and during the seven days, we will have marshals on ground.
“We will have biosecurity experts on ground, will continuously monitor the situation and work with SCOAN to make sure we can keep this place safe and keep the congregation safe and keep Lagosian safe.”
The team from the state government which also included the Incident Manager of the Emergency Operation Centre of Lagos COVID-19 Response, Dr. Ismail Abdul Salam, members of the Lagos State Ministry of Health Biosecurity team, officials of the Lagos State Safety Commission and representatives of the Federal Ministry of Health’s Port Health Services inspected the auditorium, marquee tent, hostel accommodation for international guests and sanitary facilities during the inspection.