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Indonesia

3 priests, 2 workers catch Covid-19 in Indonesian diocese

Purwokerto diocesan official denies claims cathedral is epicenter of coronavirus cluster

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3 priests, 2 workers catch Covid-19 in Indonesian diocese

Indonesians queue to board a Jakarta-bound train at Bogor station by applying social distancing protocols against Covid-19 on Aug. 3. (Photo: Adek Berry/AFP)

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Three priests from Purwokerto Diocese in Indonesia’s Central Java province and two diocesan employees are self-isolating after receiving positive Covid-19 test results, according to a church official.

One of the priests later said he tested negative after a second test but was self-isolating as a precaution, Father Fransiskus Xaverius Bagyo Purwosantosa, the diocese’s secretary-general, told UCA News on Aug. 3.

He said the five tested positive after local authorities in Banyumas district conducted mass polymerase chain reaction tests on July 21.

Those tested included priests and employees of the diocese as well as of Christ the King Cathedral Church and St. Joseph Church in the district capital of Purwokerto.

“Three priests and two diocesan employees tested positive for Covid-19 and were taken to a local hospital,” Father Purwosantosa said without giving their names.

According to him, they underwent a second test at the hospital.

“One of them told me that the results of his second test were negative. Yet like the others, he stills need to self-isolate for 14 days in accordance with protocols,” he said.

Father Purwosantosa also denied rumors claiming that Christ the King Cathedral Church was the epicenter of a new Covid-19 cluster and that the five caught the virus there.

“That is not true. These people came from different communities. We do not know how they caught Covid-19,” he said.

He said the diocese as well as the two churches have had to adopt precautionary measures. The churches had to close on July 30 for cleaning and the spraying of disinfectant, he said.

“Diocesan employees have been asked to work from home,” Father Purwosantosa added.

Christ the King Cathedral Church resumed public Sunday Masses on Aug. 2 but St. Joseph Church has remained closed.

It was not clear if any of the diocese’s parish churches resumed Masses at the weekend.

As of Aug. 2, Indonesia had recorded 111,000 Covid-19 cases and 5,236 deaths.

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