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Churches, pagodas store urns of Vietnamese Covid-19 victims

Act of compassion consoles bereaved families as the Delta variant surges across the country

UCA News reporter, Ho Chi Minh City

UCA News reporter, Ho Chi Minh City

Published: August 13, 2021 05:10 AM GMT

Updated: August 13, 2021 06:34 AM GMT

Churches, pagodas store urns of Vietnamese Covid-19 victims

Catholics pray in a columbarium in Bac Thanh Church in Nha Trang in February. (Photo: UCA News)

Churches and pagodas in Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City have offered to receive the urns of those who have died of Covid-19 as a consolation to their families.

“The contagious Delta variant outbreak is severely affecting the physical and emotional health, livelihood and lives of people,” said Father Peter Nguyen Thanh Tung of Thi Nghe Parish.

“The parish will receive the urns of Covid-19 deaths free of charge as a way to partly share the inconsolable grief of families who have suffered the tragic loss of beloved relatives amid the coronavirus pandemic. Those urns will be placed in a columbarium in the church's compound.”

Covid-19 deaths from other parishes are also accepted.

The priest said the parish will take in urns of Covid-19 victims until social distancing measures and lockdown are lifted.

"When religious activities return to normal, the parish will hold solemn requiems for those who have died of Covid-19 as at the moment the parish cannot celebrate funerals or rites for the dead due to movement restrictions," he announced on Aug. 9 while expressing his deep sympathy to the families of victims.

The army has been assigned to transport the urns of the dead to their families

On Aug. 7, Ho Chi Minh City authorities decided to use the municipal budget to pay the costs of cremation for those who succumbed to the coronavirus. Each case costs an estimated 17 million dong (US$740).

The army has been assigned to transport the urns of the dead to their families. For those urns that families could not receive, local pagodas will take them and pray for victims until their families receive them.

On Aug. 11, Venerable Thich Thanh Phong, head of the city's Buddhist Charity Committee, said Long Hoa pagoda will temporarily receive urns of Covid-19 victims regardless of faith without charge. Six urns have been placed in the pagoda.

He said the pagoda also receives urns of those who have died of other diseases during the pandemic as their relatives could not bring them home.

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The committee offers free coffins amid the Covid-19 outbreak. Monks will pray daily for the victims.

On Aug. 9, the central committee of the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha requested all pagodas across the country to set up altars and pray for the souls of Covid-19 victims in the coming Vesak season.

The contagious Delta variant has been developing with strong outbreaks, rapid spread and a high mortality rate in Vietnam since late April.

Ho Chi Minh City, the country’s Covid-19 epicenter, has reported 137,008 infections among the Southeast Asian country’s 242,552 cases. The country has reported 4,478 deaths.

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