Some dioceses in Vietnam cancel Masses in Covid-19 response

HO CHI MINH CITY (UCAN): Two dioceses in southern Vietnam livestreamed public Masses and cancelled catechism classes as government officials took strong measures to stem the growing number of Covid-19 coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) cases.

The Diocese of Phan Thiet asked all parishes in, the coastal capital of Binh Thuan province, to temporarily cancel public Masses, catechism classes, meetings, studies and other activities at churches to ensure people’s health. It said Catholics should attend online daily Masses.

“Priests in other areas of the province have to celebrate Masses briefly and limit gatherings at churches,” Father John Vianney Duong Nguyen Kha, head of the diocesan office, explained.

People are to wear face masks and wash their hands when attending Masses and going to confession. They are urged to pray for the deadly pandemic to end soon.

Father Duong said the granting general absolution is not encouraged yet, so priests must wear masks and protective gloves to hear confession and administer th anointing of the sick so as to avoid infection.

The diocese made the announcement after the city, a famous tourism destination, confirmed nine Covid-19 cases. A 51-year-old businesswoman who returned from  a trip to the United States on March 2 was reported to be the main infectious source after she and tested positive for on March 9.

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The state-run VTC News reported that the woman, who made a false declaration of her journey, immediately affected 10 people and had close contact with 203 others who made contact with a further 761 people. The report said she could face a fine of 200 million dong ($66,800) or a sentence of up to 12 years in jail.

On March 14, Father Ignatius Ho Van Xuan, vicar general of the Archdiocese of Ho Chi Minh City, asked over 200 local parishes to cancel catechism classes from March 15 to protect children, families and communities from the pandemic.

Authorities requested that all bars, cinemas, theatres, online game shops, massage parlours, karaoke bars, beer clubs, discotheques and other public entertainment places to close from March 15 to 31. Parishes of Sao Mai Vinh Hoa decided to cancel Masses after two members had contact with infected patients.

Vietnam’s prime minister, Nguyen Xuan Phuc, ordered all people to wear face masks at supermarkets, airports, bus and train stations and public vehicles starting on March 16.

The country is also is denying entry and stopping the issuance of tourist visas to citizens from Europe for 30 days beginning March 15. All travellers coming from or through China, South Korea, the United Kingdom and Schengen zone countries will be compulsorily quarantined and tested for the Covid-19 coronavirus.

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As of March 23 that Vietnam has 106 confirmed coronavirus cases, but no deaths. The latest patients are two British nationals, a German and a Lithuanian.

Some 30,000 people are under quarantine or being monitored at their homes and at hospitals. There have been no deaths in the country and 16 patients have recovered.

Worldwide, some 96,229 people have recovered from the illness as of March 23.

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