03/18/2020, 13.09
INDONESIA
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Card Suharyo: coronavirus is a test of our faith

by Mathias Hariyadi

Prayers are offered for everyone affected by the contagion. Church is grateful towards the authorities and medical personnel. The country has reported 227 cases so far, with 19 deaths. Restrictions on internal movements and foreign arrivals have been imposed. Church activities have been limited whilst Mass is available online. Meanwhile, another danger looms: dengue fever.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Card Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo, Archbishop of Jakarta and head of the Catholic Bishops' conference of Indonesia (KWI), spoke today on television about the COVID-19 virus crisis.

As Indonesia struggles with its spread, the prelate said that it is “a humanitarian challenge, but for us Catholics, it is also a test of our faith, which must be strengthened through compassion and brotherhood. For this reason, we address our prayers for all those who lost their life, and for those who are still struggling to heal.”

"The epidemic has changed our lives,” said the cardinal, “but we must remain calm and support the work of the authorities to bring the situation back to normal.”

For Card Suharyo, the Indonesian people have a debt of gratitude to all those who are working to overcome the crisis, in particular doctors and all healthcare workers.

As of today, 227 COVID-19 cases have been reported in the country, with 19 deaths. The most affected area is Metro ​​Jakarta. Some cases have occurred in East and Central Java, and the Riau Islands.

Indonesian authorities have adopted a series of measures to keep citizens in their homes and limit the spread of the virus. However, some, like the decision of the governor of Jakarta to limit road traffic, were immediately cancelled because of inconvenience caused to the population.

Starting this Friday, visitors from Iran, Italy, Vatican City, Spain, France, Germany, Switzerland and the United Kingdom or who have travelled to these countries in the last 14 days will not be allowed to enter the country. Indonesians returning home from abroad will be placed under quarantine.

The local Catholic Church is preparing to cope with the crisis in the upcoming Easter period. The archdioceses of Jakarta and Semarang now require churchgoers to keep a safe distance from each other; exchanging the sign of peace is banned; and it will not be possible to bless oneself with holy water. In some parishes, Mass can only be followed via the Internet.

However, the parish priests of St Bernadette and St Cecilia said that the coronavirus crisis must not divert attention from the fight against the dengue fever, which has infected several Catholics. In this regard, local Catholic leaders have launched a fundraising campaign to counter the spread of this virus.

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