North East India Bishops issue guidelines to contain Coronavirus

In the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak across India, the North East India Regional Bishops’ Council (NEIRBC) has issued guidelines for all the general public, Parishes and Institutions to take necessary safety precautions to contain the spread of the virus.

At the conclusion of the two-day meeting of NEIRBC at the Pastoral Centre, Dibrugarh, on 18 March, the Archbishop of Guwahati and the Council’s President, John Moolachira, speaking on behalf of all the Bishops of North East India said, “We advise the people to follow the guidelines and instructions of their respective States to contain the spread of the pandemic novel coronavirus.”  Advising the people to avoid large public gatherings, a note from the Archbishop read, “Catholics are dispensed from Sunday and other obligatory day obligations till further notice. The Church may be left open for individuals to come and pray.”

In the light of the looming threat of the virus and with no respite in sight, the guideline from the Bishops advises the people to avoid panic, as fear is more dangerous than the virus itself.

The Apex Body of the North East Bishops has advised the people to receive Holy Communion in the hand, instead of the tongue and to avoid handshakes to greet. The guideline further advises to keep the Holy Water stoops dry and to use disposable wipes, instead of towels, to clean the feet after the feet washing ceremony on Maundy Thursday and it discourages people to kiss the Cross on Good Friday. It advises a deep bow instead.

The guideline advises the clergy to refrain from any physical contact while praying over the sick or while receiving offerings.

Calling on people to take appropriate measures, the guidelines advises the health experts to conduct instruction and awareness programme for the people about the signs and symptoms of the virus and ways and means to prevent its spread.

In the light of the recent attack on two female students from the North East near Delhi University’s North Campus, by six men who called them ‘coronavirus’, the Bishops appeal for peace and to end all discrimination meted out to the people from the region during this critical time.

The advisory note concludes with a request for earnest prayers to God to help come out of this deadly virus affecting the whole world.