The Doctors’ Union has advised against reopening of places of worship without instituting safety measures during the coronavirus pandemic.
On Sunday, President Salva Kiir promised religious leaders that he would soon allow believers to congregate in places of worship.
Kiir said the country should learn to live with the virus, arguing that coronavirus is not going anywhere soon.
Social gatherings, including sporting events, religious events, weddings and political activities were suspended in mid-March.
But the government has lifted the ban on most of the activities, including travels, and unofficially relaxed restrictions on political and funeral gatherings.
It also allowed markets, bars and clubs to reopen.
The plan to reopen churches and mosques is seen as a risky move by medical experts.
They say the communal nature of the places of worship makes them particularly vulnerable to the spread of the coronavirus.
The South Sudan Doctors Union urges the National Taskforce on Coronavirus to first assess and evaluate communities’ response towards the preventive measures.
However, the union said if they must be reopened, it should be conditional – church authorities must follow certain guidelines.
The Secretary-General of Union recommended that a minimal number of people be allowed into a church or mosque.
““The National Taskforce and other structures supporting the ministry of health should ensure that all the churches that are going to open or other places to open have enough space to keep social distancing,” Dr. Bol Deng told Eye Radio on Thursday.
He stated that safety of all those who enter the religious buildings must not be compromised.
“They should also have enough resources for providing items and supplies that are needed for hygiene. For example, hand washing soaps and sanitizers,” he added.
In the United Kingdom, it is advisable to limit the number of people within a place of worship due to the potential for increased spread of coronavirus.
The government and the religious leaders in the UK have allowed gatherings of less than 30 people.
Whilst engaging in an activity in the place of worship or surrounding grounds, worshippers are asked to adhere to social distancing guidelines to reduce the risk of transmission.
The religious places must also have hand washing equipment such as sanitizers and masks.
The Ministry of Health in South Sudan is yet to give directives on what churches and mosques should do to safely reopen.
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Published Wednesday, September 23, 2020
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