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Priests warned against close contact during Mass amid coronavirus spread

HEALTH & SCIENCEBy JAEL MBOGA | Sat,Mar 14 2020 14:03:17 EAT
By JAEL MBOGA | Sat,Mar 14 2020 14:03:17 EAT

The Catholic church has urged its bishops to observe guidelines set to reduce coronavirus spread. Priests have been advised to wash hands during Mass celebrations that involve coming in close contact. "Use soap and water before any liturgical celebration and use soap in the lavabo rite to ensure cleanliness as you come in contact with bread and wine," said the statement from the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Kenya confirmed the first case of coronavirus on March 13.   Announcing the development, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said the patient, a Kenyan woman who had flown in from Ohio, USA, via London to Nairobi, tested positive.

In giving Holy communion to the sick, the Priests were asked to wash hands before and after. The KCCB General Secretary, Daniel Rono, said similar strict measures will be followed before carrying out any assistance on the altar by the servers and ministers. The church said Holy Water may be removed temporarily but Christians can carry it for use at home. Handshakes are also forbidden and faithful urged to wave instead during the exchange of peace in the middle of Mass. "We encourage any person with a cold to voluntarily abstain from Mass until they recover." Until the coronavirus threat is over, priests have been asked to give the eucharist on the hand, not the mouth as has been the norm. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause not only the common cold but other serious respiratory illnesses. Most Kenyans are curious to know where one can test for the virus. Unfortunately only two testing facilities have been set up in Kenya to test for the coronavirus, all samples taken from people suspected of having the virus had been previously sent to South Africa. According to John Hopkins Center for System Science and Engineering, as of March 11, 2020 total confirmed cases are 121,061, the number of deaths 4,368, recovered cases 66,216 and active cases receiving care 57,463. Counties are rushing against time to establish isolation centres and train staff to handle coronavirus cases. In what is likely to test the healthcare system that has been under scrutiny by stakeholders over poor performance, county officials in Homa Bay, Kisumu and Nyamira counties said that they were prepared to handle the cases. The region is banking on the few referral hospitals as well as private facilities to combat the disease.

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