Government Tasks Churches To Establish COVID Taskfoce

Government, as part of guidelines for easing restrictions on religious activities and social gatherings, has tasked churches to form a COVID task force preferably made up of health workers to isolate and evacuate the sick during services.

Members of these taskforce should have knowledge in health prevention measures, infection prevention and control and evacuation procedures in line with the Ghana Health Service protocols.

The task force are to call 112 or 311 for support to enable evacuation in case any member of the Church develops fever, cough, and difficulty in breathing during service.

Mr Samuel Kofi Dzamasi, Minister of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, announced these at a press briefing in Accra on general specifications on easing of restrictions for religious service.

President Akufo-Addo in his address to the Nation on Sunday May 30, 2020 announced measures for services to operate entreated all worshippers to adhere to the COVID-19 containment protocols.

The President directed that with effect from Friday June 5, all religious bodies, as they re opened their places of worship, were to ensure 25 per cent attendance, with a maximum number 100 congregants, to worship at a time, with a mandatory one metre rule of social distancing between congregants.

The Minister, adding to the further measures stipulated by President Akufo-Addo, tasked leaders of the religious bodies to ensure that all congregants wore masks at all times, washed hands with soap under running water or used alcohol-based hand sanitizer before entry and avoid handshaking or body contact during services.

Mr Dzamasi urged the religious bodies to ensure that every member of the Church was registered with details including names, phone numbers, manually or digitally, adding that digital registration could done on GH COVID-19 APP on PANABIOS APP which could be downloaded at no cost.

Touching on specific protocols for Churches, the Minister charged leadership to provide thermometer guns or thermal scanners to check the temperature of congregants at entry points of all venues, ensure a 'No mask: No entry' Policy, provide adequate waste management facilities and toilet facilities for use by members.

The Churches were to designate a holding room or area where a person who became sick at the premises could be isolated from others while making arrangements for evacuation.

Among others, the Churches were expected to train cleaners with the necessary personal protective equipment and cleaning items to clean the facilities regularly and handle waste appropriately, provide adequate ventilation, and display approved health promotion materials on COVID-19 at vantage points to educate the congregants on precautionary measures against COVID-19.

Mr Dzamasi urged the Chuches to ensure that there was no handshake, no hugging and no spitting policy at all time, follow established evacuation procedures in case a congregant becomes sick during church service.

"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.

Sharing personal items such as watches, jewelry, pens and phones should be discouraged, and sanitize microphones immediately after each use. If an individual is confirmed positive for COVID-19, all contacts must be traced and screened, "he added.

Churches were to ensure that there was no crowd dancing and waving of handkerchiefs during church services, discourage singing in groups, pre-record songs to be used and place offering bowls at the entrance and exit points for members to give offerings and tithes when entering the church premises and encourage cash transfers via mobile money or mobile banking as forms of giving offerings.