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Worshippers shun coronavirus scare, attend services in large numbers

By Kehinde Olatunji, Yetunde Jeariogbe and Victoria Adenekan
02 March 2020   |   5:11 am
Despite the panic that greeted the news of the index case of coronavirus in Nigeria on Friday, it was business as usual yesterday in most worship centres across Lagos State

CAN asks churches to provide sanitisers during service

Despite the panic that greeted the news of the index case of coronavirus in Nigeria on Friday, it was business as usual yesterday in most worship centres across Lagos State as many residents appeared indifferent to the news and carried on with their daily activities with less concern about its spread at such huge gatherings. The scare didn’t impact on the attendance as faithful trooped out in large numbers gaily dressed.

The Guardian observed that residents at various worship centres were without the nose mask though it was gathered that at Daystar Centre, Oregun, members were asked to use hand sanitizers provided by the church before entering the auditorium. A member, Olaoluwa Awe, said: “For me, it is a message that asides prayers, Christians should take preventive measures against the spread of coronavirus this season.”

Another resident who attended another church, Gbolahan Obadimeji, said: “It was a grave medical ignorance in this period for my church leaders to be telling us to hold hands to share the grace though I declined to hold anybody’s hand. We shouldn’t tempt God. Coronavirus is real in Lagos and Ogun states. Just stay safe.”

Though the Archbishop of Lagos, Alfred Adewale Martins had at the weekend issued a release on the mode of worship in Catholic Churches banning handshakes, but at Living Faith Church, Deeper Life and Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), activities went as usual.

Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye, General Overseer of RCCG, had in video assured members of his church that no virus would affect them. He said: “This is a time to know the difference between the children of God and others. I want to assure you that there is no virus that will come near you at all because it is written that those that dwell in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I want to believe this is time for God to show clearly there’s a difference between those who serve Him wholeheartedly and those who do not.”

Meanwhile, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has urged churches across the country to make water, soap and hand sanitisers available before and after service to protect worshippers against coronavirus. The General-Secretary of the association, Joseph Daramola, in a statement asked Nigerians not to panic saying God would help them overcome the virus.

The statement reads in part: “The God who answered our prayers when the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), which is deadlier, came calling is still on the throne and that same God will also grant us victory over the COVID-19 in Jesus Name,” he said in a statement.

The Christian body also called on the state and federal government to rise up to the challenge of preventing the spread of the virus “now that the country has recorded its first case”.

It was gathered at the weekend that facemask and hand sanitizers have become hot commodities, especially in Lagos. Multiple pharmacies in Lagos had hiked the prices of the commodities or reported having run out of stock.

A number of residents blamed the pharmacies from seeking to profiteer from the situation by faking shortage of stock. On the other hand, some pharmacists are insisting that stocks have run out because of a spike in demand starting on Friday.

A few pharmaceutical stores selling hiked the prices of facemasks, infrared thermometer and hand sanitizers to between 150 and 300 per cent. A pharmacist, Tope Oresegun, said the cost of face masks (a box of 50 masks) in the open market has rose from N700 to N4,500. A nose mask is now N200 each that is if you see to buy.

He said: “As we speak, you can hardly get the stock from major stores. There is an unconfirmed report that some of the hand sanitisers being hawked around are fake.”

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