With the full impact of the coronavirus pandemic still unraveling, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) says 42 per cent of Nigerian employees have lost their jobs on account of the disease.

The bureau, in a report just published, said the economic shock imposed on Nigerians by the pandemic exceeds whatever they may have experienced between 2017 and 2018.

The states are pressing ahead with their relaxation of the coronavirus induced lockdown.

In Lagos State, the government warned yesterday that any church or mosque that admits worshippers without face masks once they reopen would be shut down.

Mosques are to reopen on Friday, June 19, to be followed by the churches on Sunday, June 21.

The Aso Villa mosques reopened yesterday with President Muhammadu Buhari and other worshippers observing social distancing.

But the Ondo State Government threatened that it might return to lockdown if Covid-19 infections continued to increase.

The NBS, in a report entitled “COVID -19 Impact Monitoring May 2019”, said  coronavirus  impact on employment and income had  been widespread.

It said: “42 per cent of respondents who were working before the outbreak reported that they were not currently working due to COVID-19.”

It said the impact of COVID-19 “has been most strongly felt in the commerce, service, and agriculture sectors. 79% of respondents reported that their households total income have decreased since mid-March.”

NBS said some households struggled to purchase staple foods like yam, rice and beans during the seven days prior to the interview with 35-59 per cent of households who need to purchase these staple foods reporting that they were not able to buy them. 26 per cent of households reported not being able to access medical treatment when they needed it during the same period.

The report showed that many households have struggled to cope with these widespread shocks with 51 per cent of all households resorting to reducing food consumption.

The pandemic, according to NBS, has also affected children education.

Among households with children attending school prior to their nationwide closure in March, only 62 per cent reported that their children had engaged in any learning/educational activities since the closure.

Govt: how we’ll enforce compliance in Lagos worship places

Shedding light yesterday on the planned reopening of  places of worship in Lagos State, the Director General of Lagos State Safety Commission, Lanre Mojola, said officials would be deployed to strictly enforce all the guidelines and protocols announced  by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

Mojola said parents are prohibited from taking their infants to religious gatherings.

Violation of the directive will attract sanctions against such parents, he said.

According to him, government expects that in families with infants, one of the parents would stay home to offer care while the other could attend church or mosque service.

Worshipers are required to observe the standard two-metre social distancing protocol from each other while seated in the church or mosque.

“While all event centres remain shut until further notice, those used for religious gatherings, could however open but strictly for that purpose and must observe all the protocols,” Mojola said.

The DG said that over a thousand applications had been received by government from owners and operators of all events, gyms and other social places for the resumption of business.

Sanwo-Olu himself went on Twitter yesterday to say that “Sharing of kettles during ablution is strictly prohibited.

“The decision to proceed, restrict, modify, postpone or cancel a worship service after a thorough risk assessment solely lies with the state government.

“All places of worship must nominate a person who would liaise with the state government to obtain a safety clearance for their premises.

“Crowd capacity must be limited to no more than 40 per cent of the approved occupying limits of religious centres by the state government with a maximum limit of 500 people irrespective of the size of the religious centre.

“We strongly advice members of the congregation to avoid food offerings (communion) when it is being shared from common dishes.”

Buhari attends congregational prayer at Villa mosque

The Aso Rock Mosque re-opened for prayers yesterday with President Muhammadu Buhari and top government officials in attendance.

All worshippers were thoroughly screened before entry.

Each of them wore a mask and sanitized his hands.

Social distancing was also strictly observed in line with guidelines on public gathering.

Ondo threatens another lockdown if cases increase 

The   Ondo State Government said yesterday that it might be forced to lock down the state afresh if the rate of COVID-19 infection  kept rising.

The state has recorded four deaths and discharged 21 patients while eight others are currently receiving treatment at the Infectious Disease Hospital.

Over160 persons suspected of coming in contact with three new confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state are currently being searched for.

Senior Special Assistant to Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, on Special Duties and Strategy, Dr Doyin Odebowale, dropped hint of a fresh lockdown yesterday while monitoring jumat services in Owo.

Social distancing was not thoroughly observed in some of the mosques, although worshippers without nose masks were denied entry.

Dr. Odebowale said the state government was not happy with the rising cases of COVID-19 infection in the state.

He said the COVID-19 Committee would meet with Muslim leaders to enlighten them more on the need to observe COVID-19 protocols.

He said: “We have been engaging the leadership and we hope there will be an engagement.

There was not much so distancing and we are not satisfied.

“We will get in touch with the leadership. We are getting more cases and we are not happy. We don’t want a situation where the government may lock down the state again. If it continues, the government will lock down the state.”

State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Wahab Adegbenro, said the compliance level was about 60 per cent.

Dr. Adegbenro urged individuals to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Kogi lifts shutdown in Kabba/Bunu

Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State yesterday lifted the absolute lockdown placed on Kabba/Bunu communities over suspected Covid19 infection in some communities in the area.

The governor‘s action came three days into the contact tracing and testing of people in the communities started.

The governor said the purpose of the lockdown in those communities had been accomplished and there was no need to exhaust the initial 14 days lockdown declared on Monday.

Governor Bello claimed that the state remained Covid-19 free.

He accused the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) of playing politics with the pandemic in Nigeria.

His words: “We have collated many samples during the lockdown and they all returned negative. We have sent all the samples to NCDC for further claims.

“Exercise was concluded within three days. We have faced Lassa and yellow fevers outbreak in the past and we have curtailed them successfully without making noise about it.

“The mission of locking down the Kabba/Bunu area is already accomplished. I, therefore, lift the lockdown immediately.

”Kabba people should come out and do their lawful businesses.

“I appreciate everyone involved as there was no single history of molestation from the law enforcement agencies during the period of lockdown.

”We have been vindicated by this latest development that Kogi remained Covid-19 free.

“We have no issue to join with NCDC; we only enjoined them to be professional and respect their own rule of engagement.

“You cannot allocate a figure of test not carried out in the state for the state. The NCDC should tell us their political angle so that we can face them politically. They should not politicise everything.”

Osun relaxes curfew, orders civil servants to resume

Governor Gboyega Oyetola of Osun  State has  also announced the relaxation of the curfew in the state  to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Oyetola in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Ismail Omipidan, in Osogbo yesterday directed civil servants on grade level seven and above to resume work from within normal office hours.

Departmental heads are to work out alternate working hours for staff on grade levels One to Six.

Oyetola said residents will now stay indoors from 9pm to 5am daily as against the former period of 6 pm to 6 am .The governor said that the curfew relaxation will last for 14 days in the first instance.

The ban on political, public, religious, and any kind of gatherings under whatever guise remains in force.

All major markets in the state also  remain shut, while smaller markets will be opened.

The governor said that traders in smaller markets must ensure physical distancing, use face masks, and observe all other precautionary measures following the established protocols of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC

 Opening of worship centres in Ogun begins June 19 — Gov Abiodun

Governor Dapo Abiodun yesterday disclosed that the lifting of restrictions on religious and worship centres in Ogun State will commence tentatively on June 19.

Abiodun said that a sub-committee, inclusive of religious leaders, has been mandated to first review all the submissions earlier made on when to lift the restrictions before the final decision is taken by the government.

The Governor, who made this known in Oke-Mosan Governor’s Office while addressing the state on the efforts being made by his administration to tackle the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in the state, said the sub-committee was expected to harmonise all views and arrive at a composite framework or guidelines for final adoption on or before Friday, June 12, 2020.

He noted that the guidelines would be unveiled to the public ahead of time to pave way for the gradual opening of religious activities, tentatively on Friday, 19th June, 2020.

According to him, this is subject to the review of preparedness by our churches and mosques to the new normal on opening of worship centres.

He explained that a taskforce comprising religious leaders, government and security agencies will also be established to monitor and ensure compliance with the agreed guidelines for religious activities.

Abiodun warned that any place of worship that violates the guidelines will be closed as the guidelines will be reviewed at regular intervals based on developments, including expert opinions and data from the field.

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