The Federal Government on Tuesday gave an advisory to Nigerians: If you are 55 years old and above, avoid churches and mosques.
Those with health conditions such as diabetes, cancer, HIV, among others, are also enjoined to stay at home to worship, the government added.
It noted that the advice was necessary because places of worship have been recognised as a major avenue of potential spread of Coronavirus.
The government stated this through the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 Control. It released the guidelines for states to follow in discussions with religious leaders before the reopening of churches and mosques for worshippers.
The government said the protocols made available would be the baseline which the states are not expected to go below while firming up agreement with religious leaders.
Nigerians have been pressuring the government to reopen worship centres in spite of the spike in COVID-19 positive cases, leading to easing of restrictions on religious centres.
The PTF National Coordinator, Dr. Aliyu Sani, who announced the guidelines said religious centres should keep a record of attendees.
Dr. Sani said this would allow for contact tracing in the case of virus spread. He urged worshippers experiencing common symptoms of COVID-19 to stay away from churches and mosques.
“We are strongly advising vulnerable individuals such as those with underlying conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, HIV, cancer and those above the age of 55 years to please stay at home and consider remote participation or non-contact attendance.
“When we look at the death rate for persons who have died from COVID-19 in Nigeria, the case fatality rate; more than half of those that died were above the age of 50.
“Secondly, the case fatality rate if you are above the age of 50, is 17 per cent. If you are above the age of 55, it is 18 per cent. It is almost a one in five chances of dying if you catch COVID-19 and you fall within that group.
“Worshippers should be reminded not to attend in person if experiencing common symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, cough and shortness of breath or have had close contact with an infected person in the last 14 days.
“All worshippers noted to have temperature or are symptomatic should be turned back and not allowed admission.