Coronavirus: Catholic Church to suspend mass indefinitely, advises public events to be suspended too

The Archbishop of Singapore William Goh gives his sermon at a service at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd on Feb 14, 2020. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SINGAPORE - Public mass for Catholics here will be suspended indefinitely from noon on Saturday (Feb 15) in order to minimise the risk of coronavirus spread, said the Archbishop of Singapore William Goh on Friday (Feb 14).

In a letter posted on the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore's website as well as on its Facebook page, Archbishop Goh said that all other public Catholic events with large numbers of people attending, such as formation sessions, retreats and seminars, should be suspended as well.

He added that before suspending mass and other religious activities, mandatory temperature screenings for all congregants was considered.

But Archbishop Goh said screening is not "fool-proof" as people who have no symptoms could be carriers of the infection.

"Thus, implementing temperature screening may not entirely help prevent the spread of this infection even though it does mitigate the possibility of its transmission," added Archbishop Goh.

"As Catholics, we need to be responsible in playing our part to contain the spread of this virus by avoiding large gatherings of people."

Places of worship have come under the spotlight recently after some were linked to the coronavirus outbreak.

Since Wednesday, the Grace Assembly of God church has stopped all services and activities for two weeks after it was reported that two of its employees had contracted the coronavirus.

Another six cases were linked to the church on Friday and five cases the day before, making it 13 cases there in total.

It is the third church affected by the outbreak.

A 71-year-old Singaporean visited Paya Lebar Methodist Church before he tested positive for the virus, while a couple from Wuhan and three Singaporeans have been linked to an infection cluster at The Life Church and Missions Singapore in Paya Lebar.

On Friday, Archbishop Goh said that the cancellation of mass does not mean that Catholics can excuse themselves from fulfilling their religious obligations.

He added that they should still follow the broadcast of mass, which will streamed on YouTube and on the CatholicSG Radio app.

He said for private events that require the Catholic Church's involvement, like weddings and funerals, arrangements will have to be made with the parish priest, and that all precautionary measures must be taken.

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