Kenya: What Churches Are Doing to Fight the Fast Spreading Coronavirus

Travellers undergo security checks and coronavirus screening on arrival at Entebbe International Airport on February 6, 2020.

In the history of the world, whenever there was a pandemic or a crisis churches and other places of worship usually united in a campaign to urge its followers to gather and pray for better tidings.

But the current Coronavirus pandemic that has already left more than a thousand people dead in different countries across the world is not only threatening to "stop reggae" but also attendance of church services for most Christians.

Churches and parishes across the country have already started taking precautions after the government confirmed its first case of the new Coronavirus.

On Friday, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe invoked the Public Health Act to try and stop the novel virus in its tracks by suspending all public meetings and events that have large gatherings.

But the CS said churches will continue to operate as usual as long they provide hand sanitisers for their congregants.

After the announcement, multiple of churches in the country assured they are taking proactive steps to ward off the virus.

Karura Community Chapel, which draws around 2,000 attendees for services every weekend, said hand sanitisers will be availed in the church compound and in all classrooms.

The chapel's Reverend George Shiramba said the church still plans to host Sunday services, but leaders are carefully and constantly monitoring the situation, and are taking measures to provide a safe environment for churchgoers.

Catholic Church Auxillary Bishop of Nairobi David Kamau said the church will follow the government's directive.

An official statement from the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB), outlined the precautions and modifications the Catholic Church will start putting in place to curb further spread of the Covid-19.

For instance, priests have been urged to observe the highest level of hygiene in their liturgical ceremonies, including thoroughly washing hands with water and soap regularly and also take precautions when attending to those infected.

Holy water found at entrances used by Catholics for blessings before entering the church will be temporarily removed as well as the traditional handshakes symbolising an offer of peace to each other during service.

The faithful have also been asked to start receiving the Holy Eucharist on the hand and not on the mouth as some are used to.

"Although we recognise the importance of the hand greetings in our culture, in view of the risk posed by handshakes, we request that while this threat is still real, we advise the Christians to wave to one another during the exchange of peace in the daily celebrations of Mass," Bishop Kamau said.

He added: "We also urge all the Christians to follow the indications of prevention of spread of the virus, as we have been given by the health authorities of the Ministry of Health and World Health Organisation. We know that some of these measures will interrupt our liturgy sensitivity and our customs as Catholics, but it is necessary to take them given the high risk our hesitation may expose us all."

At the Vatican headquarters of the Catholic Church in Rome, Pope Francis, in a statement, ordered for the closure of all churches of the Diocese of Rome until April 3, 2020.

However, pressure from Catholic faithful made the Pope to relent and open some churches, saying, "Drastic measures are not always good."

More From: Nairobi News

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