The Lagos state government has banned religious gathering of over 50 worshippers amid the outbreak of coronavirus.
Anofiu Elegushi, the state commissioner for home affairs, disclosed this at a meeting with religious leaders on Wednesday.
Explaining that the state government is not insensitive to religious activities, Elegushi said: “Only the living can worship, it is better to offend our people than to kill them.”
On why the figure was pegged at 50, Elegushi said it would be easier to trace 50 people if the need arises.
“We hereby agree we should suspend all religious congregation that is over 50 within the state for four weeks. While the constitution allows for freedom of association and worship, we are of the opinion that we should exercise our rights with extreme caution so as to avoid contacting and spreading of this disease,” he said.
“We hereby appeal to you to please pay close attention to people coming into our places of worship, anyone found showing symptoms of this disease should immediate be isolated and reported to the appropriate authorities.
“We should put in place measures that will ensure cleanliness of our environment bearing in mind that, cleanliness is next to Godliness”. He also advised adherence with all hygiene recommendations.
“Aside our normal ablutions, our worshippers should be encouraged to make use of hand sanitizers, avoid bodily contacts as much as possible and ensure safety measures in and around their places of abode.”
Gbenga Omotoso, commissioner for information, had earlier said the government would suggest to religious leaders to suspend large gatherings.
“We are all aware that the federal government asked the National Youth Service Corps to shut down orientation camps; yesterday, the commissioner for home affairs said there will be a meeting with religious leaders today,” he had said.
“It is going to be suggested to them to maybe stop Friday and Sunday services – wherever we have large gatherings… I am sure they will be advised to shut down the services in the interest of the public and all of us. I am sure they are going to comply.”
Some countries, including Saudi Arabia and Ghana, have warned against congregational prayers as a means to tackle spread of the virus.
On Tuesday, Nigeria confirmed the third case of the virus through a 30-year-old Nigerian who came into the country on March 13 through a British Airways flight.
Additional five cases were recorded on Wednesday; the patients having a travel history to the United Kingdom and the United States.
Several actions have been taken globally to contain the spread of the virus.
The federal government has placed a travel ban on 13 countries, including China, the UK and the US.