Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State today lifted ban on religious gatherings in the state.
Akeredolu during a Press briefing held in Akure said while churches will only hold services on Sundays, Mosques will also be opened only on Fridays.
According to the governor, the state has also recorded it’s second death of coronavirus.
The Governor also said religious activities should be guided and syndicated.
Below is the full text of the Governor’s address unedited:
BEING AN ADDRESS DELIVERED BY THE GOVERNOR OF ONDO STATE ARAKUNRIN OLUWAROTIMI O. AKEREDOLU SAN, ON THE LATEST DEVELOPMENT ON COVID–19 IN ONDO STATE, ON WEDNESDAY 27TH MAY, 2020, AT THE GOVERNMENT HOUSE GROUNDS, ALAGBAKA, AKURE.
1. It is my pleasure to address you once again on the status of our state on the Coronavirus pandemic. There is no doubt that the past 10 days have also been some of our most challenging days so far. The successes recorded were also heart soothing and showed promises of brighter days ahead.
2. Let me refresh your memory about where we stood last Monday when I addressed you. We had 20 cases only. 13 had been discharged, one dead and six in bed. Today, four more cases have been added, making a total of 24 cases. Among the additional four, only one was a case of interstate importation. It was a case of an individual of northern Nigeria extraction who travelled from Sokoto state to Ondo state. The second, third and fourth cases were those of community transmission. While the second case was discovered at Oluwatuyi Quarters, Akure and reported by the Federal Medical Centre Annex, Akure, the third case is an official of the Nigerian Correctional Services who is resident in Ijoka road, Akure. His case was reported by the University of Medical Sciences Teaching Hospital Akure complex. The fourth case was presented to the General Hospital Igbara Oke as a regular patient of flu, fever, cough and other symptoms similar to those of COVID-19. He died the same night he was brought to the hospital. Not leaving things to chances, our health workers ensured the corpse was tested for COVID-19 and the result came back positive. The corpse has since been buried in his hometown, Iragbiji, Osun State. Apart from contacting Osun State Government accordingly, we have activated a wide line tracing to arrest further infection and possible spread.
3. May I on behalf of the Government and people of Ondo state express our condolences to the family and loved ones of the deceased. We pray for God’s comfort and eternal guidance for all that he left behind.
4. Gentlemen of the Media, as I said earlier, in all, Ondo state has recorded twenty-four confirmed cases so far. Nineteen have now been successfully treated and discharged while two deaths were recorded. Three are now on admission, receiving treatment.
5. From all I have said concerning our four additional cases, it is evident that the greatest threat to our efforts is the poor response to the protocols meant to prevent the spread of the Virus. This has been the cause for the avoidable community transmission of the pandemic. This infection which takes the form of inter-state importation and local inter-personal transmission ensures that the only option left for us is to be vigilant about human and vehicular trans border transportation. Without doubt, it also leaves us with the option to increase our compliance with the established standard response protocols to this Pandemic.
6. While Government continues to attach great importance to its incremental efforts at protecting our state from COVID-19, it is regrettable that the response of our people leaves much more to be desired. In terms of community ownership of the preventive measures as well as compliance to established protocols, our people are daily demonstrating half measures which are evidently not good enough.
We cannot fight COVID-19 on our own terms and conditions. We cannot win this war in a manner considered favourable to individuals. We cannot live our lives pleasurably as before and hope that COVID – 19 will go away on its own accord. We must sacrifice and dedicate ourselves to the approved measures to save our own lives and those of our loved ones.
7. In spite of all these, the State Government will continue to take actions to relieve the people of the pressures and pains inflicted by the times. One of such key areas of concern to Government is the spiritual and psychological wellbeing of the people. There is no gainsaying that religious worship appears to be the last hope of both the high and low in our society. It is the common leveller for all of us before God, the creator of heaven and earth.
8. While most activities including human and vehicular movement have been restricted, government has been concerned with the state of religious activities. Recall that in my last address, I hinted of a deliberate effort by government to ameliorate the total lockdown of religious activities. I also promised to make a definitive statement on the position of Government on the matter.
9. We commenced the process of consultation and wide review with religious leaders and other relevant stakeholders in the state. Our informed conclusion is that the state should return to guided religious worship and that if carefully managed, casualty on account of such gatherings can be avoided.
10. In the light of this and taking into consideration the advantages of so doing, I hereby direct the resumption of guided and syndicated religious activities throughout the state. The implementation of this resumption of activities will be gradual and systematic.
11. As agreed with religious leaders, in specific terms, worship centers are to commence their main activities with effect from this Friday. However, such approvals are not blanket and without restrictions, rather they are to be guided by the following which are derived from the general response protocols on COVID-19 nationally:
1. Only weekly Friday Jumat services and Sunday Church services will commence in the first instance. Other daily programmes within the week are not yet approved for take off.
2. Religious leaders and administrators must ensure strict compliance with the social and physical distancing in the places of worship. In the case of churches, not more than three people are expected to sit on a pew while the equivalent applies to the sitting positions in the mosques and other worship centres as well.
3. Water and soap must be provided at all entries into the centres or halls of worship.
4. All worshipers must be made to wash their hands in the standard pattern approved and practised since the beginning of the pandemic.
5. Hand sanitizers must be provided and used by each worshipper at every entry point to the centres and at other convenient points within the premises.
6. All worshippers and workers inside the centres and within the premises must wear face masks properly for the duration of the service.
7. Churches, Mosques and other religious centres must regularly decontaminate and sanitise the premises, facilities and equipment before and after the services.
12. I wish to stress that Government has placed appropriate machinery in motion to monitor and ensure that these guidelines are implemented to the letter. Cases of infringement, disregard or wilful neglect of these extant regulations will be considered as serious threat to the society and will be sanctioned. Let me be more direct. Any Church, Mosque or worship centre which fails to obey the simple rule will be shut down immediately.
13. I believe there is no problem too big for God almighty to solve. But we must understand and believe that such solution begins with us and our attitude. Prayers alone do not solve problems. Rather prayers, faith and actions solve all problems. I therefore urge all religious faithfuls not to take the return of religious worship for granted but see it as a step-in faith and commencement of the cleansing of our land. Christian and Muslim leaders are also enjoined to use every opportunity in the services to educate, encourage and mobilise our people to obey and implement all COVID-19 response protocols.
14. Once again, our hearts go to the family of the deceased. May the Lord help them and grant them the fortitude to bear the loss of their loved one.
15. Thank you all and may God Almighty bless Ondo state.