(Updated) Lagos Suspends Reopening of Churches, Mosques Due to Rising COVID-19 Cases

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By Segun James and Martins Ifijeh

Governor Babajide Sanwo-olu has suspended the reopening of worship centres in Lagos State, earlier planned to begin from June 19, until further notice.

The state had on June 4 said mosques and churches would be opened Friday, June 19 and Sunday, June 21 respectively.

Announcing the suspension of the reopening of places of worship at a press briefing Tuesday, the governor hinged the decision on the rising cases of COVID-19 in the state.

Lagos, with the highest COVID-19 burden in Nigeria, has 7,319 confirmed cases, 6,100 are currently on admission, 1,137 have been discharged, while 82 have died.

The governor said: “I want to inform you that we will not be proceeding with the reopening of places of worship as been said earlier for the 19th and the 21st. We will be suspending it until further notice.

“We’ve critically had to have a thorough, thorough review of where we are as a state and our condition. Our review indicate that we needed to suspend that attempt of reopening.”

A press statement by the governor after the briefing said evaluation of evolving scenarios regarding the course of COVID-19 in the state and the corresponding public health advisory guidelines issued by experts had necessitated the state to reconsider reopening of religious centres.

He said: “So, let me say this again: we are now hereby suspending, with immediate effect, the plan to reopen religious houses and places of worship in Lagos State until further notice. We will continue to monitor the situation closely, and continue to base our decision-making on data modelling; as well as on the responsibility we have to act in a manner that ensures the protection of all residents.

“Therefore, until further notice, all places of worship in Lagos State will remain closed. Social and events centers, and social clubs, will also remain closed, for now.”

He warned that the state was now fully in the phase of personal responsibility regarding the pandemic, adding that this means that while the government maintains its responsibility to take protective decisions for the common good, what will ultimately save residents and defeat the virus was the sensible personal decisions taken on a daily basis.

He said: “Decisions to use masks anytime you are out of your house, to avoid non-essential travel, to stay at home when we don’t have any business being outside, to wash or sanitise our hands regularly – these are the simple but necessary steps that will save and protect us all.

“As a government, we will continue to do everything in our power to safeguard the health and wellbeing of the people, but that can only be effective when the people themselves act responsibly, and do not behave in a manner that undermines public health guidelines and puts the society at risk,” he said.

Sanwo-Olu, who is the Incident Commander on COVID-19 in the state, said as at midnight on June 15, the state recorded a total of 7,319 confirmed cases of COVID-19, adding that of the number, 1,137 persons have fully recovered and discharged, while 82 have sadly died.

He said this leaves 6,100 active cases under management of the state.

“Our dear state therefore continues to be the epicenter of the pandemic in Nigeria, with about 44 per cent of the total number of confirmed cases nationwide.

“Let me again say that the steady increase in number of confirmed cases is by no means unexpected. Considering that the infection is now very much in our midst, the more we test, the more the number of positive cases that will emerge.

“The uplifting news is that, based on the statistics emerging from state, more than 90 percent of the people who test positive will go on to fully recover under supervision, and be discharged.”

He used the opportunity to thank frontline workers including medical workers, rapid response teams, support personnel like call center workers, drivers, cleaners, and others, monitoring teams at the state and local government level, and all security agencies for their efforts in pushing towards winning the war against the pandemic.

Watch video of the governor’s press briefing here.