UCA News


Coronavirus forces religious restrictions in Singapore

Christian and Muslim leaders have exempted people with symptoms of infection from attending prayer gatherings

UCA News reporter

UCA News reporter

Updated: February 07, 2020 08:23 AM GMT
Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Coronavirus forces religious restrictions in Singapore

A volunteer from Singapore's ministry of communications prepares to collect feedback from members of the public on the current novel coronavirus outbreak situation in the city state on Feb. 5. (Photo: AFP)

Share this article :
Religious leaders in Singapore have put restrictions on rituals and celebrations after the tiny city state reported 30 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection, making it the third most affected country after China and Japan.

The Archdiocese of Singapore has exempted people with virus symptoms from the obligation of attending Mass or other community activities.

In a detailed instruction, the archdiocese asked Catholics to receive Communion only on hands rather than on the tongue. It also asked parishes not to keep holy water containers at the entrance of churches lest people use them.

It also advised that catechists and students should have their temperature tested before classes. The symptoms of the infection are similar to those of the common cold.

Bishop Chong Chin Chung of the Methodist Church has suggested an alternative to the handshake. He said congregants might greet each other with their palms placed together, with a slight bow of the head.

The Office of the Mufti in Singapore has exempted Muslims in quarantine or unwell from attending Friday prayers. Its message also urged Muslims to wash hands with soap and cover the mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing.

The Singapore Buddhist Federation canceled its annual Chinese New Year gathering on Jan. 31.

The government has started making arrangements for a second flight to bring back Singaporeans from Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak in China, the foreign affairs ministry said on Feb. 7.

The epidemic has claimed 636 lives in mainland China, the National Health Commission of China said on Feb. 7. Some 31,000 are reportedly infected in China, where the infection was first reported in December.

Singapore has imposed travel restrictions to stop all new visitors of any nationality with recent travel history to mainland China from entering Singapore.

“The traffic between China and Singapore has come down significantly because flights have shrunk 70 to 80 percent, while traffic volume has come down by 60 to 70 percent,” transport minister Khaw Boon Wan said on Feb. 6.

Amid reports of shops running out of stock, the government announced that all 1.3 million households in Singapore would each be given a pack of four face masks, The Straits Times reported.

Schools have been asked to suspend assemblies and excursions. Several firms in Singapore have suspended business and media events, including a big travel fair.

Singapore was one of the worst-hit countries outside China in the 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

Support UCA News...

As 2020 unfolds, we are asking readers like you to help us keep Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) free so it can be accessed from anywhere in the world at no cost.

That has been our policy for years and was made possible by donations from European Catholic funding agencies. However, like the Church in Europe, these agencies are in decline and the immediate and urgent claims on their funds for humanitarian emergencies in Africa and parts of Asia mean there is much less to distribute than there was even a decade ago.

Forty years ago, when UCA News was founded, Asia was a very different place - many poor and underdeveloped countries with large populations to feed, political instability and economies too often poised on the edge of collapse. Today, Asia is the economic engine room of the world and funding agencies quite rightly look to UCA News to do more to fund itself.

UCA News has a unique product developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes. Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to - South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.

And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters that cover 22 countries and experienced native English-speaking editors to render stories that are informative, informed and perceptive.

We report from the ground where other news services simply can't or won't go. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don't have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.

With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.

Click here to find out the ways you can support UCA News. You can make a difference for as little as US$5...
UCAN Donate
Thank you. You are now signed up to our Daily Full Bulletin newsletter
Support UCA News

William J. Grimm, MM


Union of Catholic Asian News

"As Pope Francis has said, we live not so much in an era of change as in a change of era. That is especially true in Asia and for the churches of Asia. UCA News is the dedicated, Asia-wide news and information service for the Church in Asia and we need your help to maintain the service."