02/04/2020, 13.23
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Vietnamese Catholics fighting the spread of coronavirus

by Paul Nguyen Hung

The Bishops’ Conference issues instructions for communities across the country. The faithful are urged to pray for the victims of the disease and for doctors seeking a speedy treatment. Nine cases have been confirmed in Vietnam. The government temporarily shuts down schools.

Hồ Chí Minh City (AsiaNews) – The Vietnamese Church has taken a number of steps to counter the spread of the 2019-nCoV virus in the country.

Two days ago, Bishop Phêrô (Pierre) Nguyễn Văn Khảm of Mỹ Tho, secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Vietnam (CBCV), sent a note on ‘Preventing the coronavirus epidemic in the country’ to all 27 dioceses, as well as parishes, religious communities and seminars.

In it, the prelate urges the faithful with flu-like symptoms not to leave home and calls on those who plan to take part in Eucharistic celebrations to receive communion in their hands.

The CBCV also suggests postponing meetings and pilgrimages until the outbreak is under control, urging Catholics to pray so that “God can heal those who have been infected and ensure that others do not become victims of the epidemic.”

Meanwhile, the Vietnamese Ministry of Health has confirmed the latest case of infection this morning.

A 30-year-old man returning from Wuhan, the Chinese city at the centre of the outbreak, tested positive in the northern province of Vĩnh Phúc.

He joins the eight people who are already infected in the country, three in Hồ Chí Minh City.

That figure however is widely dismissed as inaccurate as the authorities seem to be downplaying the health emergency.

Nevertheless, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc last Saturday declared a coronavirus epidemic in the country. The next day, the authorities ordered the temporary closure of the schools.

The Hanoi Department of Education and Training announced that kindergarten to vocational training schools would shut from 3 to 10 February.

In Hồ Chí Minh City, the local department followed suit, closing local schools for a week, from 3 to 9 February.

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