Question: How are we going to celebrate this Easter? Today is Good Friday, 10th April, 2020 and the stay at home order for Covid19 has not been lifted.
Answer: Places of worship in Nigeria usually have large gatherings of people. This has to be avoided to reduce the spread of Covid-19 which is transferred very easily from person to person. Based on what is known about this virus, any wise person will prefer to isolate himself or herself in prayer until the storm is over. It’s a sad reality indeed but it seems that these very important days in the Christian life may be better celebrated in spirit and in truth. It’s time for worshipers to have a personal connection with God while joining virtual prayers. Nigeria so far has been doing relatively well compared to other countries of the world like USA and Italy. We think that the stay at home order will help to flatten the curve so that there will not be an unprecedented rise of infection with this virus. It has decimated many countries with better health care facilities than Nigeria. Therefore our best action is to stop it from spreading by staying at home for the entire duration of time that it takes to spread from one person to another. Many health experts are frowning as a certain State Governor in Nigeria relaxed the stay at home order from Good Friday to Easter.
Many churches are also helping people by sharing food. This is good, however it’s very imperative that they make a plan to observe physical distancing to ensure that they do not share the Covid-19 virus that can kill the very people that they want to help.
Let’s read below what the World Health Organization has to say concerning this.
“Having faith during COVID-19
A sad reality of the COVID-19 pandemic is that many people have been infected in settings where they turn to for comfort at these difficult times. There have been outbreaks of COVID-19 among religious communities due to certain religious practices. To help stop transmission in communities while allowing people options to worship, WHO’s Information Network for Epidemics (EPI-WIN) brings together members of diverse faith-based communities in virtual meetings and discussions. The EPI-WIN team and faith experts discuss the critical role of religious leaders and faith- based communities in saving lives and reducing illness during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
Faith-based communities play a substantial role in supporting local health systems; advocating for the rights of vulnerable populations; providing support and comfort to communities; and being a trusted source of information. They are often integrated into broader communities through the services they provide, and in doing so they reach the most vulnerable groups with assistance and health information.
The EPI-WIN team and the faith community have co-developed practical guidance and recommendations, to support the special role of religious leaders, faith-based organizations, and faith-based communities in COVID-19 education, preparedness, and response. This includes:
• Sharing evidence-based information about COVID-19, preparedness, and response
• Avoiding large group gatherings and conducting rituals and faith-related activities remotely/virtually, as required and whenever possible
• Ensuring that any decision to convene group gatherings for worship, education, or social meetings is based on a sound risk assessment and in line with guidance from national and local authorities
• Ensuring safe faith-based gatherings, ceremonies, and rituals when they do occur
• Strengthening mental and spiritual health, well-being and resilience, through individual contact (while observing appropriate physical distancing) and through social and other communications media
• Ensuring a human-rights-based approach to advocacy, messaging and service delivery
• Addressing stigma, violence, and the incitement of hate
• Promoting ecumenical and interfaith collaboration, and peaceful coexistence during the COVID-19 pandemic
• Ensuring that accurate information is shared with communities; and misinformation in addressed”.
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