Ogun Governor Dapo Abiodun has suspended the planned reopening of worship centres in the state, citing low compliance with guidelines and precautionary measures against the coronavirus by residents.
Abiodun, had in his last address to the state, planned to lift restriction on religious centres with effect from Friday, June 19.
Speaking to reporters at Oke – Mosan Governor’s Office, Abeokuta, he noted worship centres are the most veritable and potent ground to spread the deadly virus, saying he elected to take the painful decision to keep them locked to save lives.
He lamented the startling COVID – 19 statistics in the state, saying as at last Monday, Ogun had recorded 586 positive cases as against a total number of 316 on June 4, representing an increase of 270 or over 85% in just 14 days.
He noted the number of cases recorded from first index case on 27th Feb to 4th June – a period of 98 days – had almost doubled in just 14 days, explaining however that a cumulative total of 315 patients have been successfully treated and discharged while six more deaths have also been recorded in the last 14 days.
He said community transmission was still on the increase, regretting also that in spite of the spirited efforts of the government to create awareness about the deadly nature of the pandemic and the guidelines in place to flatten the curve of the spread, the compliance level of residents and citizens remained very much below expectation.
And fielding questions from reporters, Abiodun threatened to arrest operators of sports viewing centres and patronisers as well as shut down the operation of commercial motorcycles in the state if found to be compromising the safety and health of people by their activities.
Abiodun said: “After a careful review of the data, feedback from the field, expert opinions, and lessons from far and near, two major conclusions are very clear and obvious to all: first, the COVID-19 situation in Ogun State and indeed in the country as a whole has not improved since the last update.
“And there are dire consequences in loss of human lives for premature relaxation of the guidelines, necessitating a rollback of the relaxation in a number of states and countries. Unfortunately, guidelines may be rolled back, the lost human lives cannot be rolled back.
“We are confronted with two choices – yield to the demand of those who want the restrictions to be further relaxed or even completely removed, even if this is at variance with the dictates of incontrovertible data analysis and scientific opinion; or tow the path that preserves public health and safety, even if not so popular.
“As a responsible administration, we choose life and the wellbeing of our citizens and are therefore constrained to take the painful but necessary decision to maintain the current regime of eased lockdown in the meantime.
“We are consequently suspending our initially slated reopening of places of worship. Let me thank some of our religious leaders who by themselves advised us that this is the best decision that we should take at this time in the best interest of all of us.
“This is not an easy decision, but we are confident that the wisdom and scientific basis for this decision will become clearer to those who may have initial misgivings about it.
Since the advent of this pandemic in our State, our cautious, methodical, data-driven and scientifically supported approach has ensured not only comparably superior outcomes, we have also not had reasons to reverse our decisions, because our decisions are usually well thought out.”