03/16/2020, 17.50
INDIA
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Caritas India sets up a task force against coronavirus, won’t leave anyone alone

The number of confirmed cases in the country has risen to 116 with two deaths. Caritas issued a health advisory for its staff, partners and beneficiaries. Its Lent campaign has been adapted to fight the pandemic. The Archdiocese of Goa and 15 Protestant churches in Mizoram impose strict hygienic rules.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) - Caritas India is “planning to set up an emergency task force and will be conducting an emergency meeting at the national level to evaluate the situation and plan the next course of action,” said Fr Paul Moonjely, Caritas India executive director, speaking AsiaNews.

Caritas India, the leading Catholic charity, is already involved in the coronavirus emergency and won’t leave anyone alone to face this situation. "We are going to reach out to isolated communities and support them,” Fr R Moonjely explained.

As part of its strategy, the Catholic charity’s public relations and communications manager Patrick Hansda issued an advisory for all the staff, partners and beneficiaries, urging them to follow prevention instructions to reduce the risk of contagion.

Meanwhile, the outbreak continues to progress across the country. As of today, the number of COVID-19 stands at 116.

For Hansda, “The situation in India is alarming. The Corona pandemic has created widespread fear among the masses, particularly after the first two deaths, one in New Delhi and the other in Karnataka.”

Concerned about public health, Caritas India is looking at the health situation within its Lent “campaign against hunger and disease” so as “to build the resilience of the community and support its partners in tackling the pandemic.”

Caritas is not alone in this battle. Other Church organisation are also involved, calling on their members to respect the basic rules that prevent contagion, such as frequently washing their hands and avoiding the sign of peace.

The Archdiocese of Goa and Daman responded to last week’s message by Card Oswald Gracias, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI) by issuing instructions on what to do during religious services.

Archbishop Felipe Neri Ferrao, head of the local Church, urges the faithful not to kiss the crucifix and priests to rub their hands with sanitising gel before placing the hosts in the faithful’s hand.

On Good Friday, “blessing with the raised cross will be adequate. Those who wish can line up, bow and leave.”

If anyone comes into contact with infected people, they should “be asked not to come to public services for at least two weeks.” The directive will remain in force until Easter Sunday, 12 April.

Yesterday the Indian government closed the borders with its neighbours. On Saturday, Goa ordered the closure of schools, cinemas, bars, restaurants, swimming pools and casinos.

Last Wednesday, the north-eastern state of Mizoram closed its borders with other Indian states as well as neighbouring countries (Bangladesh and Myanmar).

The Mizoram Kohhran Hruaitute Committee, which includes 15 Protestant Churches, has given its blessing to the State’s decision, asking its members to respect the rules, and calling for “God's intervention so that the State remains safe from the coronavirus and the global pandemic is contained.” (A.C.F.)

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