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Timor Leste

Timor-Leste archbishop calls for unity in Covid-19 fight

Tiny Catholic-majority country records only its second confirmed coronavirus case

Thomas Ora, Dili

Thomas Ora, Dili

Published: April 13, 2020 09:35 AM GMT

Updated: April 13, 2020 09:52 AM GMT

Timor-Leste archbishop calls for unity in Covid-19 fight

Salesian Archbishop Virgilio do Carmo da Silva is seen here in Dili in this file photo. The prelate called for unity in his Easter message as Timor-Leste looks to stave off the Covid-19 pandemic. (Photo: Thomas Ora/UCA News)

Archbishop Virgilio do Carmo da Silva of Dili has stressed the importance of unity in his Easter message as the predominantly Catholic country looks to prevent the Covid-19 pandemic from gaining a foothold in the tiny nation. 

Jesus' death and resurrection are a call for everyone to abandon personal interests and focus on the welfare of society, particularly those affected by the coronavirus pandemic, he said.

"Celebrating Easter amid the Covid-19 pandemic invites all of us to set aside our personal, group or party interests and instead create unity to fight the coronavirus," the archbishop said during a televised Easter Mass on April 12 in Dili.

The Church, he said, has supported the government's March 28 state of emergency declaration and is broadcasting services on television, radio and social media

The prelate also called on Timorese people not to panic and to remain calm at home as part of their effort to fight the global pandemic.

Archbishop da Silva also applauded the government and doctors for their efforts in trying to keep the virus in check.

Since the first Covid-19 case was reported in Timor-Leste on March 21, the government has continued to monitor the situation and is conducting tests.

A second case was confirmed on April 10. The new case came after the government conducted tests on more than 100 people. Doctors are waiting for all the results of those tests.

Meanwhile, Dr. Sergio Maria Lobo, spokesman for the Integrated Crisis Management Center Covid-19, told a press conference in Dili on April 12 that 764 Timor-Leste nationals who returned home from overseas were still in quarantine, while over 1,140 people had been cleared to return to their families.

"We have closely watched those who enter the country,” he said. “All had to undergo 14 days of quarantine." 

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However, in stricter measures to prevent the spread of the virus, starting April 13, the Timor-Leste government will prohibit citizens residing in other countries, including those in Indonesia, from returning home.

The government also plans to subsidize Timorese youths studying in Indonesia to help ease their resulting hardship.

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