Churches, mosques and schools instructed to provide sanitisation apparatus
The first coronavirus case in Kenya has triggered a more intense reaction from the government with public gatherings banned until further notice.
The gatherings include church crusades, public meetings, games and all inter-school events to avoid spread of the virus.
Churches, mosques and schools are however not affected by the ban but the government has ordered that the institutions instead provide sanitisation apparatus.
CNN reports that religious communities around the world are modifying traditions to prevent coronavirus spread.
Instead of giving his weekly Sunday greeting at the window in St. Peter’s Square in Rome, Pope Francis delivered the Angelus prayer via video link.
“We do this so that the close concentration of people won’t spread the virus,” the Pope said Sunday. He used his address to pray for those suffering from the outbreak and for those who are helping them.
The Pope appeared briefly at the window to bless a small number of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
The Pope’s weekly Wednesday audience will also be via video link, the Vatican said in a statement Saturday, and all public participation in his weekday private mass has been canceled through March 15.
Vatican City reported its first coronavirus case on Friday, and the Vatican dispelled reports that Pope Francis had been tested for coronavirus, saying he only had a cold.
Meanwhile, churches in many cities in the north of Italy — including Bologna, Turin, and Venice — suspended their Ash Wednesday services, with some offering masses online or on local television.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has closed several temples and limited or temporarily suspended gatherings in Hong Kong, Mongolia, South Korea, Japan and Seattle.
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Office of Theology and Worship has assured worshippers that they can decide to limit church participation, or not, without fear of judgment.
It also encouraged people who decide to stay home because they are sick to engage in other ways, including prayer circles, small groups and social media.
“I think it’s a way to stave off a sense of panic or too much alarm,” Jeffrey Lee, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese in Chicago, told CNN. “Knowing that there are things we can do is powerful for people in church or out of church.”
Muslims asked not to embrace or kiss
Muslims at the Islamic Center of Southern California are asked not to embrace or kiss each other on the cheek, but rather place a hand over their hearts, give a respectful nod or flash a warm smile.
Members of the community have been advised to wash their hands often and keep their distance from others, and hand sanitizer stations have been installed for use as people enter and exit the mosque.
California has seen at least 49 cases, and officials are warning that more are likely.
The Islamic Center of Southern California hasn’t yet canceled services or urged people to pray at home. For now, they’re waiting to see how the situation evolves. But it is something they’re considering, according to spokesman Omar Ricci.
“We’re just trying to stay ahead of things and I think a big part of this is messaging to the community,” Ricci said.
“If they see that the Islamic Center is on top of it and actively looking at things, I think that will give them a comfort level about us making some good choices. I think the important thing is that we don’t overreact or underreact as things evolve.”
Elsewhere in the world, communities are taking things a step further.
Saudi Arabia, which draws millions of faithful visitors each year, has temporarily suspended foreigners from coming to the kingdom for Umrah, a pilgrimage to visit Islam’s holiest sites that can be taken at any time of the year.
Tajikstan, which has not yet reported any coronavirus cases, has suspended Friday prayers, the most important congregation of the week. The United Arab Emirates’ Sharia Council issued a fatwa banning people who are sick from attending prayers and services.
Additional report from CNN
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