Lovers of the Holy Cross of Vinh sisters fast and attend Eucharist adoration at their chapel on Feb. 7 to pray for control of the coronavirus outbreak. (Photo courtesy of Lovers of the Holy Cross of Vinh)
Bishops in Vietnam have asked Catholics to live out Christian faith to fight against the fast-spreading coronavirus by treating infected patients fairly and not seeking profits on health supplies.
On Feb. 8, Bishop Paul Nguyen Thai Hop of Ha Tinh said the world is seriously affected by the coronavirus epidemic, so “local Catholics should make a great show of Christian love in the hard time.”
Bishop Hop urged them not to make profits from a lack of medical supplies, especially face masks which now fetch much higher prices.
The Directorate of Market Surveillance said the severe shortage of masks has been caused by unchecked speculation and hoarding of masks to raise prices. Many pharmacies and stores in Ho Chi Minh City reportedly announced they were out of masks but 150,000 masks were found on Feb. 7 at Tan Son Nhat International Airport to be exported abroad.
Archbishop Joseph Nguyen Nang of Ho Chi Minh City called on Catholics not to be greedy and self-interested in making money on the sufferings of other people.
“We should pray for the human community to love and help one another generously in this difficult time,” Archbishop Nang said in a message on Feb. 5.
He also asked them to pray for leaders of nations to be wise to find effective solutions for the virus epidemic and to serve people in truth and love.
Bishop Hop called on Catholics not to discriminate against but love and respect virus-infected patients, suspected ones and those who are from affected areas.
A female receptionist who was infected with coronavirus by two Chinese tourists at her hotel in January in the coastal city of Nha Trang said local people had kept away from her and her family even though she was free of the virus and returned home from hospital on Feb. 4.
She said people were afraid to contact them and said no words to them. Her parents had to stop their daily work because of public discrimination.
Vietnam has reported 14 virus-infected patients including two Chinese visitors and one Vietnamese-American. Five Vietnamese and one Chinese patient have been cured of the deadly pathogen.
Vinh Phuc in northern Vietnam has nine patients including five female workers who returned from Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus, on Jan. 17.
Bishop Hop asked Catholics to take preventative measures proposed by church and government agencies in careful and calm manners. Those who have a fever and cough should not attend services but can receive the Eucharist at their homes.
The Dominican bishop said priests who hear confession and penitents must wear masks and keep safe distances from one another. Catechism classes can be closed according to the situation.
Archbishop Nang said Catholics started a novena — nine consecutive days of special prayers for the epidemic and patients — on Feb. 9. They attend Masses, recite the rosaries and Divine Mercy, change their lives, fast, do penance and perform charity.
The coronavirus has killed 910 people and infected 40,548, mostly in China, while 3,410 infected people have recovered.