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Leona Wood
Leona Wood
Church News

Church of Ireland issues guidance on coronavirus after first case in Ireland

by Cara Bentley

The Church of Ireland has issued advice to priests and those attending mass across Ireland following the first case of coronavirus to be detected.

Information, which has been circulated to all clergy, includes advice to suspend the sign of peace and shaking hands on entering and leaving the church. They are encouraging church-goers to smile, nod or bow instead. 

It also advises that during mass only the person giving the bread and wine, the celebrant, should drink the wine and that bread should be administered into the hands only and not onto the tongue -  and that those administering Holy Communion should wash their hands with particular care before and after. They also discourage dipping the bread into wine. 

Parishes have also been asked to consider providing alcohol-based hand sanitiser gels at all entrance and exit doors to churches and to ensure the regular cleaning of surfaces in the church that people touch such as door handles. 

The measures have been described as "preventative and should not in any way raise any existing levels of concern".

The guidelines reflect previous advice provided by the Church as a response to pandemic flu. 

It advises people not to come to church if they are concerned they have the virus, saying: "Stay at home if you feel ill and display influenza-like symptoms. The symptoms to be aware of in the case of the coronavirus include cough, shortness of breath, difficulty in breathing, and fever. Do not come to church services until you feel well. 

It also advises against calling the vicar for a visit: "The Church's duty of care extends to members of the clergy. If you have influenza-type symptoms, do not call the clergy for pastoral visitation. Pastoral support for parishioners who are unable to attend church services should be provided by telephone or online (e.g. Skype)."

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