Christians across Imo state today converged in their various churches to reverence God after about two months closure of worship centers to check the spread of covid-19. Our Correspondent who accompanied members of the State Task Force on Covid-19 to monitor compliance with stipulated safety measures in churches reports that there was an appreciable level of conformity with the directives.
At the Cathedral of the Transfiguration of Our Lord, CATOL Owerri and Living Faith Church, Owerri headquarters, measures such as compulsory wash of hands, use of hand sanitizers and check of temperature with infrared thermometers before admission in to the churches were observed.
Though Physical distancing was observed in both churches significant number of people was seen without face masks at the CATOL. Addressing the congregation the Chairman State Task Force Committee on Covid-19 Professor Maurice Iwu expressed the fear that the pandemic might overwhelm the nation now that lockdown is being gradually eased if people failed to comply with the guidelines.
He frowned at persons sighted inside the church without wearing face masks and urged those in charge to deny them entry as such persons constituted health risks. Professor Iwu advised people who are sixty years and above to remain at home to avoid contracting the virus as there immune system might have been compromised. At the Maria Assumpta Cathedral Owerri where the Catholic Archbishop of the Province the Most Reverend Anthony Obinna officiated, only two persons sat on chairs that ordinarily would have been occupied by four or five persons.
People without face masks were not allowed entry into the church.Some rituals that involved body contacts like shaking of hands as a sign of peace were avoided as people merely observed this by bowing. Archbishop Obinna in a response to a message from the Covid-19 taskforce said the church had taken measures to check the spread of the virus but however appealed to government to monitor activities of some herdsmen in the state.
A catholic faithful Sir Emeka Ani in an interview thanked government for re-opening worship centres noting that the war against corona virus required social, medical and spiritual approaches. Latest report from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control indicates that Imo recorded twelve new cases of the virus bringing the total figure to fifty nine.