Pastoral Guidelines for the Prevention of the Spread of “Novel Coronavirus Infection (Wuhan Coronavirus Infection)”
(23 January 2020)
According to the information provided by the Government, it is not yet certain how the “Novel Coronavirus Infection (Wuhan Coronavirus Infection)”, currently spreading from Mainland China to Hong Kong, Macau and other regions, is transmitted. The Chancery Office and the Diocesan Liturgy Commission have laid down the following Pastoral Guidelines after consultation with medical professionals and on the basis of healthcare recommendations of the Government. All priests, liturgical ministers and the faithful are required to observe these guidelines, with a view to safeguarding the common good and preventing, as far as possible, the spread of the new viral epidemic in our local communities.
At this stage the Government classifies the epidemic under the “serious” category. In the event that the epidemic is raised to the “emergency” category, our Pastoral Guidelines will be revised accordingly.
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1. Hygiene within the Church Premises
1.1 Keep doors and windows open for the maintenance of good ventilation. Where necessary, improve ventilation by means of electric fans and air-conditioning facilities.
1.2 Regularly cleanse and disinfect the Church floor, furniture such as prie dieux, the Reconciliation Room, especially the screen, and the toilets, using diluted household bleach (i.e., adding 1 part of household bleach to 49 parts of water), rinse with water and then mop dry.
1.3 The faithful are encouraged to put on a mask before entering a church.
2.1 For their own safety and that of others, members of the faithful who feel unwell or show respiratory symptoms, such as coughing, difficulty in breathing, or fever, must not attend Sunday Mass. However, in this case, they should practise other forms of piety, such as reading Scripture, saying the rosary or other prayers.
2.2 As a temporary measure, abstain from providing holy water at the Church entrance, so that the faithful need not use holy water.
2.3 The practice of individual faithful placing small bread into the ciborium before Mass should be suspended for the time being.
2.4 Liturgy booklets and hymnals in the church should be cleansed regularly.
2.5 Readers and commentators should refrain from serving if they feel sick. The microphone equipment in all its forms should be cleansed after Mass. (Alcohol may be used.)
2.6 Before, during and after consecration, the bread and wine should be covered with purificators until Communion time. These purificators should be changed after each Mass and washed before reuse.
2.7 As a temporary measure, give Holy Communion under one species only, the Host, and do not give the Blood of Christ.
2.8 As a temporary measure, all members of the faithful are to receive Holy Communion only in the hand, and not by the traditional method.
2.9 All priests and Eucharistic ministers should individually wash their hands before and after giving Holy Communion.
2.10 All priests and Eucharistic ministers are to wear surgical masks while giving Holy Communion.
2.11 Priests and Eucharistic ministers should place the small hosts gently in the hands of the communicants, but should avoid touching their hands as far as possible.
2.12 Take care of hygiene in cleansing chalices.
2.13 Avoid unnecessary contact ──
a. While saying or singing the Our Father, do not hold hands.
b. Express the Sign of Peace by bowing heads, instead of shaking hands.
c. As a temporary measure, the blessing of children should be suspended.
2.14 All liturgical ministers should wash their hands before and after the Liturgy. Their liturgical vestments and other uniforms should be washed more regularly.
3. Visitation and Giving Holy Communion to the Sick and the Elderly
3.1 As a temporary measure, Eucharistic ministers and visitors should abstain from visiting or giving Holy Communion to the sick in the hospitals. If it is deemed necessary to go, the minister or visitor should consult the Parish Priest. (Note: At present all hospitals have suspended day-to-day visits.)
3.2 If a priest is obliged to visit a sick person (for example, for anointing or giving viaticum), he should comply with the directions of the hospital, consult the matron of the ward concerned, and wear a surgical mask. Before leaving the ward, he must wash his hands.
4.1 Take note of latest information on the website of the Department of Health.
4.2 Take note of any latest guidelines from the Diocese.
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The faithful are urged to do their utmost, through prayers and the practice of the virtues of faith, hope and love, to join the Government and the general public in combating the new viral epidemic.