The Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the two major religious organisations in Nigeria, have urged Christian and Muslim worshippers to avoid religious gathering if they experience the symptoms of the novel Coronavirus.
At separate fora on Thursday, the religious bodies advised the faithful to remain at home if they notice symptoms such as respiratory problems, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.
Professor Salisu Shehu, NSCIA Deputy Secretary-General, who addressed a news conference in Abuja, said mosques and Islamic centres to discourage members from attending any mosque activities “even if they are only experiencing mild symptoms”.
“In the event of confirmed emergence of the infection in several figures; regarding the congregational prayers, in such affected places, including the Friday prayers, funeral prayers, tarawih prayers and Eid prayers, people with compromised immunity such as the elderly, children, those with underlying health conditions amongst others should observe their prayers in their homes or wherever they are, and pray Zuhr in place of the Friday (Juma’at) prayers,” Shehu said.
The NSCIA deputy scribe, however, confirmed that the regular Juma’at prayers will hold at the National Mosque, Abuja, on Friday.
He explained that the service will go ahead as planned “because at the level of the National Mosque, we are still observing the situation, so as far as the Juma’at service is concerned, it is going to take place here”.
With regards to the Hajj and Umrah, Shehu advised Muslims to adhere to all directives issued by the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
In the same vein, Reverend Samson Ayokunle, CAN President, called on churches to abide by the guidelines and precautions stipulated by the authorities -particularly by the Lagos and Ogun states- including suspending gathering of over 50 persons.
In a statement issued by Pastor Adebayo Oladeji, his media assistant, Ayokunle urged churches to conduct house fellowships or online service, noting that services could be broken into shifts of not more than 50 members per shift.
The CAN President also declared 22 and 29 March as days slated for prayers against the pandemic.
He directed all churches in the country to observe the two-day prayer.
“Our prayers should be that God should stop the spread of coronavirus in Nigeria and all over the world and God should protect Nigerians from this disease and heal those who have been infected already,” the statement read.