BY Ryan McDougall | February 14 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Coronavirus guidelines issued by Church in England and Wales but not in Scotland

The bishops of England and Wales offered guidance on how to minimise the risk of exposure to the virus during Mass.

The Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales has offered prevention advice to Catholics on the Coronavirus epidemic as the number of cases in the UK and worldwide continues to rise.

However, the Catholic Church in Scotland has confirmed it has not issued any guidelines on prevention of the spread of the virus.

As the SCO went to press, there were eight confirmed cases of the disease in the UK, and over 40,000 worldwide, mostly in China.

The total number of deaths in China is over 900. The overall risk to the UK is classed as ‘moderate’ but two of the eight cases in the UK are believed to be GPs.

Exposure risk

In a statement released online, the bishops of England and Wales offered guidance on how to minimise the risk of exposure to the virus during Mass. Their advice includes keeping hands clean, sneezing into tissues and general ‘good hygiene.’

A spokesperson for the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales said: “Ask anyone with cold or flu symptoms to refrain from taking Communion from the Chalice and receive the host on the hand only—we should be doing this anyway, every flu season.

“Ensure good regular cleaning of surfaces lots of people touch regularly. Ensure you combat discrimination against Chinese people and others wrongly assumed to have or be spreading the virus.”

The bishops also recommended that Catholics should use hand sanitiser before Mass, especially ministers of the Eucharist.

‘Living in fear’

The bishops’ guidelines followed a statement from Bishop Declan Lang, Bishop for International Affairs and head of Clifton Diocese.

He asked Catholics to remember citizens of China in their prayers, particularly those living in Wuhan who are ‘living in fear because of the spread of the Coronavirus.’

He added: “Medical facilities are being stretched to the limit, and there is talk of a shortage of food.

Images of empty streets which are normally crowded indicate the seriousness of the situation and the panic felt by all.”

A spokesperson for the Catholic Church in Scotland said: “No guidelines on the virus have been issued.”

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