03/19/2020, 18.26
PAKISTAN
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Justice and Peace Commission calls for praying and fasting against the coronavirus

by Shafique Khokhar

The Catholic organisation suspends all its activities to prevent contagion. Pakistan has 302 confirmed cases. In Punjab, university hostels have been turned into quarantine centres. Church calls for prayers for the sick and “for the discovery of an effective vaccine”.

Lahore (AsiaNews) – The National Justice and Peace Commission of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Pakistan (CBCP) has issued a statement calling on the faithful to continue praying and fasting during Lent to beat the coronavirus.

The Catholic organisation, chaired by Archbishop Joseph Arshad of Islamabad-Rawalpindi, who also heads the CBCP, has called on people not to underestimate the power of the virus which, “is growing globally and also in Pakistan”.

The statement goes on to urge the “almighty and merciful God to give hope as well as strength, comfort and healing to everyone.”

As of today, some 302 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in the country, with 734 people in hospital suspected of having the virus, and two deaths.

The archbishop urges the faithful to pray for the sick and for the discovery of an effective vaccine to reduce the risk of contracting the virus.

He also calls on all Pakistanis to “cooperate with the government, act responsibly by staying at home, respect the safety distance between people, and heed all other measures to protect yourselves from the proliferation of the contagion.”

The Commission is “really worried about the outbreak of this virus." For this reason, it suspended all its activities "in order to cooperate with the authorities and play a responsible role in prevention.”

It welcomes the efforts by Punjab province to contain the virus and convert university hostels into quarantine centres. Provincial authorities are enforcing Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which allows them to suspend or limit any activity in the public interest for a given period.

In the past 20 years, “there have been deadly epidemics such as SARS and MERS, and now the most lethal: Covid-19,” said Archbishop Arshad. This “has spread virulently to several places, causing despair even in the most powerful countries. The international impact of this viral attack is deadly. In many countries, the economy is taking a severe blow. Tourism is in trouble, markets are faltering. The crisis is one of humanity's most difficult challenges.”

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