COVID-19 update: NCDC may recommend cancellation of mass gatherings, publishes guidelines for event organizers

    NCDC boss Chikwe Ihekwuazu

    MON, MARCH 16 2020-theG&BJournal- The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has published a set of guidance for safe mass gathering, taking into cognisance that mass gatherings has the potential for serious public health consequences.

    The Centre also said it will make the recommendation for cancellation of mass gatherings in line with guidelines from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and in view of the rapid evolution and global transmission of coronavirus, but noted that at this stage, ‘’we are not advising the cancellation of gatherings, but our advice may change as the epidemiological situation evolves.’’

    The set of guidance for safe mass gathering is targeted at organisers currently planning mass gatherings. These include:

    Religious events- church services, calls to prayer, prayer meetings and other gatherings

    Sporting events- football matches

    Social events- weddings, funerals, parties, music concerts, and

    Other events such as youth service camps, conferences and exhibitions.

    ‘’Organisers of these events must ensure adequate preparations are in place, before hosting an event’’ NCDC said, adding that, ‘’event organisers should consider using distancing measures to reduce close contact among people during the gathering by providing more entry and exit points, more food points, ensure hand washing facilities (with soap and water) are readily available at entry and exit points.’’

    Pre-event or gathering

    NCDC added that the State Ministry of Health should be informed of the event and it expects the event location to be assessed by health officials from the State Ministry of Health to ensure safety procedures are in place.

    In addition, organisers will be required to provide information to attendees prior to the event and at entry, advice on regular hand washing or the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer, touching of eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands as well as on handshakes, hugging and any other form of physical contact where possible.

    -Provide adequate waste management facilities such as closed trash cans

    -And review practices that put congregation at risk such as sharing a communal cup, receiving the holy communion on the tongue and shaking hands.

    Facilities in Place

    The NCDC says during events, organizers should provide temperature scanners at entry point, use rooms with adequate ventilation and proper air circulation, effective waste management facilities, provide adequate resources to disinfect after event, running water and soap and expects Health personnel to detect fever on entry and respond to emergencies.

    During event or gathering:

    The following steps are expected to be taken:

    -Organizers of major events should provide temperature scanners

    -Use the gathering to reinforce messages on hand and respiratory hygiene and staying safe

    -Ensure provision of adequate hand washing facilities including running water, soap or alcohol-based hand sanitizer

    -Arrangement should be made to check this on entry

    -provide adequate human resources who will be responsible for cleaning and disinfecting communal places such as ablution areas, all floors, toilets and surfaces such as door handles, chairs and church benches with disinfectant or soap

    ‘’Attendees at mass gathering are also advised to review the advisory and take note of the preventive measures,’’ NCDC said.