The Minister of Health, Dr Ruth Aceng, on 9th November 2020 made new rules and changes in the Public Health (Control of COVID – 19) (Amendment No. 3) Rules, 2020.
Among the changes, number 14A of the Statutory Instruments states thus; ‘churches, mosques, open political meetings and rallies allowed, with conditions’.
One of the conditions for the above provision is that “churches or mosques shall be open for prayers except that the persons gathered for prayers shall not exceed 200 persons.”
Shedding more light on this, Dr Diana Atwine, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Health said that there were queries from the public citing that the number of the targeted population which had been suggested before, did not consider the varying spaces and accommodation capacity in the different places of worship.
“For instance, some churches are a bit big compared to others. We saw that identifying space in churches is more practical. Likewise, it wouldn’t be practical for churches that can hold up to 50 people to hold 70. Therefore, ensuring physical distancing is better,” Dr. Atwine explained.
She also said that science and research have proven that with social distancing while outdoor, there are less risks of spreading the virus. Therefore, even approximately 200 people can attend a church service outdoor as long as they are well spaced as there is less risk compared to 70 people seated in one room.
Addressing the changes as regards the burial arrangements for Covid-19 victims, Dr Atwine confirmed that new research shows that when a person dies of covid-19 and they are carefully sealed off in a body bag and a coffin, they can’t spread the virus.
This is why, she said, people will now bury their departed ones, as opposed to the Ministry of Health teams and other health workers exclusively conducting the burial exercise.
She said that as more new deaths emerge, the health ministry and its partners won’t be able to bury each and every victim “but luckily, science has guided us.”
“Because the person can no longer breathe or cough and yet the virus spreads through air, they can’t spread the virus when put in a well sealed bag and coffin,” she said.
She, however, said that a medical personnel should guide the relatives on how to bury their loved ones.