UCA News


Churches fight swine-flu spread

Updated: July 02, 2009 10:52 AM GMT
Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Share this article :

The Catholic Church in Singapore is doing its bit to curb the spread of the A(H1N1) virus or swine flu. This weekend, the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary will once again screen the temperatures of churchgoers before allowing them to enter the church building for Mass.


A doctor from the Mount Alvernia Hospital, a Catholic hospital, administers a flu vaccination in Singapore (Photo: Courtesy of Mount Alvernia Hospital, Singapore)

"We will check temperatures with a handheld infrared scanner," said parish priest Father Henry Siew. "Those with abnormal temperatures will stay in a waiting area. Half an hour later, we will take temperatures again. For those with a persistently abnormal body temperature, we will call 993." The phone number 993 is the hotline that people can call to request an ambulance to take suspected swine flu cases to hospital. Singapore, with a population of more than 4 million, has reported a total of 783 swine flu cases, according to figures released by the Ministry of Health on July 1. So far, no one has died from it. The temperature screening of worshippers at the Church of the Nativity began on the weekend of June 27-28. The church is the only local Catholic church known to have implemented such temperature screening for Massgoers. Students attending catechism classes at the church are also having their temperatures taken. Another parish, St. Joseph Church, will request a parents´ declaration that their children, who are attending catechism classes, have not traveled overseas and that none of the family members are being quarantined for swine flu. Temperature screening of students before class will also be conducted. In taking these precautions, these parishes are following the practice of various schools in Singapore that have started taking the temperatures of students before the start of each school day. Other parishes that are not conducting temperature checks have cancelled some catechism classes. The Church of St. Anthony and Blessed Sacrament Church, for example, have canceled July 4-5 classes. Father Terence Pereira, parish priest of St. Anthony, said: "We are thinking of the next step. We are looking at providing sanitizers and masks for catechism classes." The Church of the Holy Cross has also advised children and teenagers who have returned from overseas trips to swine-flu affected areas to stay home this weekend instead of coming to church. While catechism classes at the Church of St. Mary of the Angels will be held as normal this weekend, a youth camp for some secondary school students, scheduled for Jul. 17-18, has been postponed to October. Meanwhile, Father Patrick Goh, chancellor of the Singapore archdiocese, told UCA News that instructions issued by Archbishop Nicholas Chia on April 30 on the precautions to be taken during Mass are still in force. Parishes are also strongly urged to cancel youth camps, said Father Goh. The archbishop had instructed that Communion not be given on the tongue, that people avoid shaking hands during the sign of peace at Mass, and that holy water fonts not be filled. In addition, he said people who have a fever or cold should be advised not to attend church services. Commenting on the Church precautions, Doctor John Hui, a Catholic medical practitioner, said the responsibility of preventing the spread of swine flu lies not just with "priests and Church authorities, but with every member of the Church."

Support UCA News...

As 2020 unfolds, we are asking readers like you to help us keep Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) free so it can be accessed from anywhere in the world at no cost.

That has been our policy for years and was made possible by donations from European Catholic funding agencies. However, like the Church in Europe, these agencies are in decline and the immediate and urgent claims on their funds for humanitarian emergencies in Africa and parts of Asia mean there is much less to distribute than there was even a decade ago.

Forty years ago, when UCA News was founded, Asia was a very different place - many poor and underdeveloped countries with large populations to feed, political instability and economies too often poised on the edge of collapse. Today, Asia is the economic engine room of the world and funding agencies quite rightly look to UCA News to do more to fund itself.

UCA News has a unique product developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes. Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to - South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.

And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters that cover 22 countries and experienced native English-speaking editors to render stories that are informative, informed and perceptive.

We report from the ground where other news services simply can't or won't go. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don't have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.

With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.

Click here to find out the ways you can support UCA News. You can make a difference for as little as US$5...
UCAN Donate
Thank you. You are now signed up to our Daily Full Bulletin newsletter
Contribute and get the Mission in Asia PDF Book/e-Book Free!
Contribute and get the Mission in Asia PDF Book/e-Book Free!
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia