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Masses remain suspended as Myanmar extends lockdown

Church officials say they will not resume public liturgical ceremonies until preventive measures are lifted

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Masses remain suspended as Myanmar extends lockdown

Archbishop Marco Tin Win presents a gift to Sitagu Sayadaw after the Buddhist monk donations to the coronavirus emergency fund set up by Pope Francisa in  Mandalay, on April 16. (Photo: Radio Veritas Asia-Myanmar Service)

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Catholics in Myanmar will continue attending Sunday Masses via online channels as the government has further extended Covid-19 measures for two more weeks to contain the spread of the virus.

Church officials said they will not resume public Masses and other liturgical ceremonies until preventive measures are lifted in compliance with the government’s order to contain the contagion.

Churches were closed and services moved online for daily and Sunday Masses as well as daily Bible reflections and adoration in mid-March.

On July 13, the National-level Central Committee for Prevention, Control and Treatment of Covid-19 announced that it had extended existing measures (excluding those already lifted) from July 15 to July 31 to continue containment of the pandemic.

It’s the sixth time prevention and control measures have been extended since they were first imposed in April.

The extension covers all mass gatherings and religious activities at places such as temples, pagodas, churches and mosques.

The measures also include mandatory wearing of masks in public and no gathering of five or more, with certain exemptions, including when commuting and involving work.

As Myanmar has found more imported cases and no local transmissions so far, the Education Ministry will open schools on July 21, beginning with high schools and followed by middle and primary schools two weeks later.

“It is important that school children do not drift away from learning. Next week we will initiate reopening schools that had to close due to Covid-19,” said State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi.

“We will begin by reopening high schools. Based on the success of this plan, we will make plans to reopen the middle and primary schools.”

“During the period while we have to confront a disease for which we don’t have preventive or curative vaccines, there are many factors to be considered before we take one step. That’s why we have to make steady steps to reach our goal as quickly as possible,” Suu Kyi wrote on Facebook on July 13.

Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon said despite "the challenge of the relentless outbreak of the virus, our faith continues to sustain us. May the day of deliverance come soon.” 

“Covid is the seed planted by the enemy Satan. This weed has grown and killed more than half a million and infected millions of people. God has called whole of humanity to sow the seed of compassion to fight the Covid weed,” Bo said in a homily on July 12.

Myanmar has so far reported 336 cases of Covid-19 including six deaths and 261 recoveries. The most recent cases have been from returnees from abroad such as Thailand and Bangladesh who are being held in quarantine facilities.

According to the latest data, more than 572,428 people have died out of more than 13 million confirmed cases worldwide.

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