A renowned International Evangelist, Dr Lawrence Tetteh, on Monday pleaded with President Akufo-Addo and the Coronavirus Task Force to review their stand on religious gathering.
He admitted that although the world, including Ghana, was facing a dire situation due to the fast spreading COVID-19 infection across nations, the role of religious institutions, such as churches and mosques, were very crucial in providing psychological and physical solace, reassurance and education to their congregation in times like this.
Dr Tetteh indicated that with majority of Ghanaians being religious, it would be easier to relay information and education on the COVID-19, which had currently been declared a pandemic, to help stop its spread.
“People can easily be corrected from the pulpit, and we can look at that as an effective channel of communicating the preventive guidelines to our members to educate them and also help to stop the spread of the COVID-19 infection,” he said.
Dr Tetteh, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Accra, stated that in as much as the Government had a constitutional responsibility to protect the citizenry, the present situation required a holistic approach and a massive united front with divergent stakeholders including religious leaders, who could effectively sensitise their followers.
He, however, commended President Akufo-Addo and the COVID-19 Task Force for the swift action to shut down the operations of some sectors of the economy, and for instituting strict travel measures to help contain the spread of infections within the country.
He noted that the COVID-19 pandemic was a serious global health issue that required in-depth knowledge and the effective dissemination of clear information to populations for counselling, protection, and prevention.
While observing that a Bible prophecy identified pestilence as a notable feature of the 'end times,' Dr Tetteh quoted 2 Chronicles 7:14, to assure believers of the Gospel of God's promise of saving them from such calamities.
In times like this fear and over anxiety could lead to a surge in infections, hence the need to for the Government to strengthen its partnership with religious institutions and their leadership in the strategies to properly inform and sensitise their members, he said.
Dr Tetteh noted that the pandemic required both spiritual and scientific analysis and, as highlighted by the President in his address to the nation, the situation must be devoid of all selfish interests by individuals or groups, to ensure a unified country.
He advised religious leaders to learn to be broad-minded and be well informed about the COVID-19 and the emerging issues, and avoid over spiritualising the situation, or taking undue advantage of their members.
The Evangelist said religious institutions must learn how to do things differently; for instance desisting from the laying of hands on congregants and taking social distancing seriously by minimising the number and meeting times.
It was very important to promote the various hygiene etiquettes regarding coughing, sneezing and handshakes, he said, and called on all to frequently wash hands with soap under running water or use alcohol-based had rubs, among the other prescribed methods, for prevention.