03/05/2020, 16.31
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Catholic Church concerned about the high risk of coronavirus in Bangladesh

by Sumon Corraya

For bishops, the country’s poverty and large population are a source of major concern. “We have sent brochures to priests so that during their Sunday homily, they can explain to people how they can protect themselves,” says a health professional.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) – The Catholic Church of Bangladesh is concerned about the great risk Bangladesh is facing as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. For this reason, it is taking some steps.

So far, Bangladesh has not reported any cases. However, local media yesterday cited the case of a Bangladeshi infected in Italy. At the same time, China’s ambassador to Bangladesh recently said that screening in the country is inadequate, whilst the United States deems the South Asian nation among its top 25 high-risk countries.

Dr Edward Pallab Rozario, secretary to the Episcopal Commission for Health Care (EC-HC), spoke to AsiaNews about the situation.

"Catholic bishops are very worried about the coronavirus epidemic,” he said. “We recently met to discuss the issue and expressed our concerns, because Bangladesh is a very populated country. If the coronavirus arrives, it will seriously harm people. As a poor country, we don't have much chance to protect ourselves.”

Dr Rozario, who is also Caritas Bangladesh's health coordinator, noted that the Catholic Church in Bangladesh has taken steps against the virus.

“We have sent brochures to priests so that, during the Sunday homily, they can explain to people how they can protect themselves from the coronavirus.”

“Caritas Bangladesh also has more than 3,000 employees who have been briefed. And Caritas staff are informing people on how to protect themselves from the virus.”

Dr Rozario noted that many Bangladeshi Christians live in China, Italy, Iran and South Korea. “If they came back to Bangladesh, this epidemic could break out here, any time.”

Most Bangladeshis are concerned about the epidemic. People have now taken to wearing masks to protect themselves. Some people don't go out unless absolutely necessary.

"I watch the coronavirus epidemic on TV; I don't leave the house if I don't have anything urgent to do," said Shaphaly Corraya, a Dhaka domestic worker.

Dr Meerjady Sabrina Flora, director of the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research, said: "We have been forced to take urgent preventive measures against the high risk of coronavirus spreading.”

The United States and China have also expressed concern about Bangladesh as a high-risk country for the coronavirus. The epidemic has so far affected 73 countries, including Bangladesh’s neighbour India. Worldwide, the virus has killed about 3,000 people, and infected more than 90,000.

Li Jiming, China’s ambassador to Bangladesh, yesterday said that Bangladesh is at high risk of coronavirus infection as it spreads in neighbouring countries.

Speaking at the Padma Bridge Rail Link project site in Keraniganj, he expressed dissatisfaction that only Chinese coming to Bangladesh are being tested, adding that other people coming into the country should be tested as well.

As Bangladeshi authorities indicated, no one has so far been affected by the coronavirus. People continue to pray in churches and temples.

For its part, the Episcopal Commission for Healthcare has tried to explain the Church’s ministry in health matters. The latter entails proclaiming Jesus’s Gospel of love and mercy in the service of the sick as well as explaining and defending the Church's teachings on health. It includes Christian-centred training to Christian health professionals, be they doctors, nurses and others.

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