COVID-19: Reopening churches a 'reckless' decision, says expert

Experts are warning that South Africa could see a spike in health worker infections should hospitals fail to enforce strict infection control to stop the spread of COVID-19. Courtesy of #DStv403

JOHANNESBURG - A top scientist has weighed in on the potential risk of infection spread in certain areas of life as the country is gradually eased out of the national lockdown.

Professor Francois Venter from the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute said the reopening of churches is a reckless decision.

Level 3 regulations: Ramaphosa lifts ban on religious gatherings

He says it poses the risk of further infections as seen in other parts of the world.

"I'm very scared for the congregants because churches have been a major place of infection.

READ: Govt was not pressured to allow religious gatherings: Mthembu

"I think, whoever is responsible at the level of the churches whether it's the priests or some sort of committee, needs to be thinking very hard about how to socially distance when they go back to their worship.

"I understand that people need comfort in these very trying times, I just think it's a reckless decision at the moment to allow people to go back without some sort of guidance in terms of how to do that," Venter said.

READ: SA Council of Churches welcomes reopening of places of worship

"In places like South Korea, these mega-churches were the sites [from] where the virus spread and several outbreaks in the US and Europe which have been directly linked to churches so I just think, there should be a more sober way of dealing with this."

Experts have warned that South Africa could see a spike in health worker infections should hospitals fail to enforce strict infection control to stop the spread of COVID-19.

READ: Surge in COVID-19 infections as death toll rises to 552

Within hospitals and clinics there have been strides made to ensure hygienic practices and social distancing is enforced.

Public transport was named as a particular concern for the spread of the virus.

Venter stated the "language of lockdown" has been a problematic way of viewing the virus and urged people to concentrate on coming up with creative solutions to maintain social distancing and hygiene.

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Source
eNCA