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Indonesia

Indonesian bishop tests positive for Covid-19

Apostolic administrator of Sibolga becomes the second high ranking church official in Indonesia to contract the virus

Katharina R. Lestari, Jakarta

Katharina R. Lestari, Jakarta

Updated: October 20, 2020 05:25 AM GMT
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Indonesian bishop tests positive for Covid-19

Apostolic Administrator Anicetus Bongsu Antonius Sinaga of Sibolga. (Photo: UCA News)

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A bishop and a priest from Sibolga Diocese in Indonesia’s North Sumatra province have both tested positive for Covid-19, according to a diocesan official.

Apostolic Administrator Archbishop Anicetus Bongsu Antonius Sinaga of Sibolga and Father Alboin Simatupang tested positive on Oct. 19, diocesan secretary Father Blasius Super Yesse said in a video message published on the diocese’s YouTube channel.

The 79-year-old Capuchin prelate was Archbishop of Medan, when was appointed as Apostolic Administrator of Sibolga in September 2018. He retired as Archbishop of Medan in December 2018 but continues to administer Siboga.  

The prelate becomes the second-highest-ranking church official in the country to have contracted Covid-19. The highest was Capuchin Archbishop Kornelius Sipayung of Medan, also in North Sumatra, who tested positive for the virus in July.

Father Yesse said Bishop Sinaga fell sick after celebrating a deacon’s ordination on Oct. 15 in St. Therese of Lisieux Cathedral Church in Sibolga.

“The bishop was admitted to St. Melania Sarudik Clinic and treated there. But his health remained bad so he was later taken to St. Elizabeth Hospital in Medan on Oct. 16 and treated by a special team of doctors,” he said.

“It was suspected he had contracted Covid-19 so a swab test was conducted. On Oct. 19, we received confirmation the bishop had tested positive for Covid-19,” he said.

Father Alboin Simatupang, who accompanied the prelate to Medan, had a swab test, too, and tested positive for Covid-19.

“The priest is also being treated at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Medan,” he said.

Father Yesse called on Catholics to pray for the recovery of both the bishop and the priest as well as all people who contract Covid-19 as “our prayers are medicine for those suffering from sickness.”

He also said that those who had direct contact with Bishop Sinaga and Father Alboin within the past week should go into self-isolation or seek medical advice.

As of Oct. 19, Indonesia had recorded 365,240 Covid-19 cases and 12,617 deaths. Of this number, North Sumatra province had 11,944 cases and 499 deaths.

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