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Covid-19 infects 30 Indonesian seminarians

Church officials believe students were infected by people coming to visit them

Covid-19 infects 30 Indonesian seminarians

A banner in Jakarta asks people to observe health protocols to prevent Covid-19 transmission. At least 30 seminarians in Sintang Diocese were recently infected with the virus. (Photo: Konradus Epa/UCA News)

At least 30 seminarians at a minor seminary in Indonesia’s West Kalimantan province have been infected with the coronavirus.

Some are currently being treated at a local hospital, while others are self-quarantining.

Father Emanuel Yosep Foat, rector of St. Johannes Mary Vianney Minor Seminary in Sintang Diocese, said the infections came to light when a seminarian began showing Covid-19 symptoms last week.

He had a high fever and could not smell anything, prompting the priest to ask him to take a swab test and the result came up positive. 

“All seminarians and priests in the community were then asked to also take a swab test. As a result, out of 88 seminarians, 30 tested positive for Covid-19,” the priest told UCA News.

“Only the seminarians were infected, and none of the priests.” 

Most were in good health and not showing any symptoms.

“We don’t know how they were infected because they haven’t left the seminary complex in quite a while,” Father Foat said. “We suspect they were infected by people who came to visit them.” 

Capuchin Bishop Samuel Oton Sidin of Sintang confirmed the infections and reassured the seminarians’ families and the local community that they were receiving good treatment from medical workers.

“We ask for prayers and support for our seminarians so that they can recover soon, and for the medical workers looking after them,” Bishop Oto Sidin told UCA News.

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He also called on all seminarians to rigidly follow health protocols and maintain social distancing.

Felix Gunawan, director of the Association of Voluntary Health Service of Indonesia, a Catholic group, said places such as boarding houses and schools carry a high risk of Covid-19 transmission if people do not implement health protocols.

“People living in close proximity to each other need to know the risks and how to reduce them,” he told UCA News.

As of Sept 16, Indonesia had recorded 228,993 Covid-19 cases and 9,100 deaths. 

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