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Myanmar churches move Masses online to tackle Covid-19

Religious services are canceled and travel restrictions tightened as the country reports its first three cases

Myanmar churches move Masses online to tackle Covid-19

Young Buddhist monks wearing face masks look on in Yangon on March 24. Myanmar confirmed its first Covid-19 cases on March 23 after weeks of increasing skepticism over the Southeast Asian nation's claims to be free of the disease. (Photo: AFP)

The Archdiocese of Mandalay has taken preventive measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 with the cancellation of Sunday and daily Masses and other liturgical ceremonies.

The diocese issued a letter signed by Archbishop Marco Tin Win on March 24 informing priests and the faithful that daily and Sunday Masses as well as other liturgical ceremonies will be suspended between March 25 and April 30.

Daily Masses will be livestreamed through Radio Veritas Asia and the diocese’s social communication office’s Facebook page.

“Daily Masses will be performed by priests without the faithful in attendance. People can participate from home spiritually,” said the letter.  

The archbishop urged priests to arrange giving Communion to the elderly and patients who are not suspected of Covid-19.

The letter added that funeral services must be held with limited people at home and arrangements must be made for coffins to be sent to a cemetery.

Myitkyina Diocese in Kachin state has also arranged for daily and Sunday Masses to be broadcast online as all church services have been canceled.

Bishop Francis Daw Tang said the diocese is cooperating with local authorities to take preventive measures by suspending Masses at churches.

“We are going to hold Masses with a limited number of people in the cathedral which will be broadcast live,” Bishop Daw Tang told UCA News.

He said the diocese has established an emergency response team to deal with coronavirus-related cases in parishes. “I urge every parish to form an emergency response team and contact the central committee if any suspected patient is found,” Bishop Tang said.

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Most dioceses in Myanmar have yet to announce the suspension of daily and Sunday Masses.

Myanmar reported its first two confirmed cases of Covid-19 on March 23 after weeks of downplaying the risk to the country.

The third case was confirmed after a 26-year-old man who returned from Britain tested positive, the health ministry announced on March 25.

The government has taken more preventive measures as it has locked down a village in Chin state where the first confirmed patient lives. 

The first two patients who tested positive remain in a stable condition, according to health officials.

Some 235 people are under investigation and two suspected patients and 26 people are awaiting laboratory test results. 

So far, 210 people have tested negative and 134 people were discharged from hospital, according to a health ministry announcement on March.24.

On March 24, the ministry of foreign affairs announced that all Myanmar nationals and foreigners traveling to the country must spend 14 days in a quarantine facility starting from the day after arrival.

Foreign nationals must also present laboratory tests confirming that they are free of Covid-19, issued no more than three days prior to their travel date.

Diplomats and UN employees are subject to a two-week home quarantine, according to the ministry’s announcement.

State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi urged people not to panic over the confirmed cases of Covid-19 and assured the public that the disease is curable and can be treated as long as they follow the advice of health officials.

“Let us meet our challenges by uniting the strength of the people and the strength of the nation,” she said in a televised address on March 24.

According to the latest data, almost 19,000 people have died out of more than 425,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases worldwide.

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UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
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UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia