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A professor at the University of Ghana Kodjo Sena has urged Christians and Muslims in the country to stay home and worship from there despite the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions on religious activities by President Akufo-Addo.
According to him, the church and mosques could become avenues for the spread of the deadly coronavirus if care is not taken.
“People should stay at home, wherever you are you can pray and God will listen. We don’t want the mosque and churches to be another avenue for coronavirus spread. We don’t need to congregate for God to listen. God will listen to you anywhere,” he told Francis Abban on the Morning Starr Tuesday.
It comes after government on Monday outlined protocols for resumption of churches and mosques beginning coming Friday.
Below are details of the guidelines as announced by the Religious Affairs minister on Samuel Kofi Dzamesi .
I. Thermometer guns or thermal scanners are to be provided for checking the temperature of congregants at entry points.
II. A No mask, No entry Policy is to be enforced.
III. Handwashing facilities with running water and soap and/or FDA approved alcohol-based hand sanitizer are to be provided.
IV. Adequate waste management facilities (bins, cans, bin-liners and single-use tissues) are to be made available.
V. Adequate toilet facilities must be made available.
VI. There should be the regular cleaning and disinfection of frequently used communal places (like toilet surfaces) and frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs/handles, preferably every 1-2 hours depending on the rate of utilization.
VII. A holding room or area where a person who becomes sick at the gathering can be isolated from others must be available ahead of arrangements for the evacuation.
VIII. There must be the regular disinfection of venues used by churches, preferably once every month.
IX. Trained cleaners with the necessary personal protective equipment and cleaning items must be on hand to clean the facilities regularly and handle waste appropriately.
X. Provide adequate ventilation, i.e. open windows to allow for the maximum circulation of fresh air, if possible, avoid confined air-conditioned rooms.
XI. Display approved health promotion materials on COVID-19 at vantage points to remind congregants to keep to social distancing protocols, wearing of the masks, regular handwashing, coughing and sneezing etiquette.
XII. Ensure a No handshake, No hugging and No Spitting policy at all time.
XIII. Follow established evacuation procedures (as outlined in Annex 1) to enable evacuation if a congregant becomes sick during the event and has to be evacuated.
XIV. Churchs are to form a COVID-19 task force comprising of members who are preferably health workers.
XV. The COVID task force should Call 112 or 311 for support to enable evacuation if anyone develops fever, cough, and difficulty in breathing during service.
XVI. Unwell Persons are not allowed to attend church
XVII. Older persons and people of any age with underlying medical conditions, heart diseases, diabetes, liver disease, and asthma are advised to stay away from church service
XVIII. Sharing personal items such as watches, jewellery, pens and phones should be discouraged.
XIX. If an individual is confirmed positive for COVID-19, all contacts must be traced and screened.
XX. No crowd dancing and waving of handkerchiefs during church services.
XXI. Sanitize microphones immediately after each use.
XXII. All who speak/sing in churches (including Pastors, Sunday school teachers, Singers and Announcers) must wear facemask during service.
XXIII. Discourage singing in groups. Pre-recorded songs or solos should be used.
XXIV. Pre-packaged communion bread and wine should be picked up by members at the point of entry.
XXV. Place offering bowls at the entrance and exit points for members to give offerings and tithes when entering or on their way out of church premises. Encourage cash transfers via mobile money or mobile banking as forms of giving offerings.
XXVI. In observance of social distancing protocols, laying on of hands should not be allowed.
XXVII. Spend at least 5 minutes of church service time to educate church members on Covid-19.
XXVIII. Provide separate sitting areas for the aged and for families that are together.
XXIX. The church is encouraged to mobilize resources to help individuals in need including offering church health facilities.
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