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The Voice of Hassocks
The Voice of Hassocks
UK News

Coronavirus: Church of England issues guidance to local churches

by Heather Preston

As the risk of coronavirus increases Anglican churches in London and the South East have received guidance from the Church of England on how to avoid the further spread of infection.

The virus which originated in China's Hubai province has now seen over 43,000 confirmed cases globally while the death toll in China has risen to over 1,000.

Eight Britons have tested positive for the new strain which has been named Covid-19 by the World Health Organisation. 

A British businessman who contracted the virus in Singapore has been described as a so-called 'super spreader' after passing it on to 11 people.

Brighton-based Steve Walsh, who unwittingly infected others says he's fully recovered and his thoughts are with those who now have it.

In response to the outbreak, the Church of England has issued guidance to parishes in London and the Diocese of Chichester - which covers the South East advising churches "not to soldier on" and to take precautions in the event of a larger outbreak.

A statement from the Archdeacon of London reads: "If someone is ill then call 111. Do not soldier on. This will help prevent the spread of disease. Those who are assessed as being at risk (which currently means those who have travelled back from a number of Far Eastern countries the last 14 days) are asked to self-isolate at home while tests are done."

The document recommends making changes to sacraments in order to protect parishioners from sickness.

Its suggestions include the use of hand sanitiser before taking communion and encouraging congregation members who feel ill not to drink from the Chalice.

The Church of England has also instructed church members to refrain from sharing the Peace - a custom in which the congregation shake hands and offer the peace of God to one another.

Two GP surgeries in Brighton have been shut following an outbreak in the city where Walsh is based.

Rev Andy Flowerday of All Saints Patcham near the doctors has received the Church of England's advice.

Flowerday, who visits a number of his parishioners throughout the week says they are being mindful of their health: "I think people are being good at saying if they've got a cold or not, I mean, even before coronavirus was here I rang someone and said would you like a visit and they said stay away because they've got the lurgy anyway."

"It's something just to be wary of."

Flowerday says his parish has been gathering to pray for the outbreak and he is encouraging others to do the same. 

"Pray that God's blessing is on all people and on those who are actively seeking to contain it and also pray for calmness and peace of mind and that the authorities will get on top of it and stop it spreading further," he continued.

The Catholic Church has also taken measures to stem the spread of the virus with the Brooklyn and Queens dioceses removing the use of communion wine in mass altogether, following an outbreak in New York City.

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