NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Catholic Churches throughout the country have implemented new guidelines for worship and services amid the global spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
The United States Embassy yesterday issued a health alert advising its citizens of increased travel restrictions implemented in The Bahamas due to the global outbreak.
There have been no confirmed or suspected cases of the virus in the country, according to Dr Duane Sands on Sunday.
At last report, three people were being quarantined and 26 have been released from quarantine.
In a letter signed by Archbishop Patrick Pinder, the Catholic Church will observe new guidelines with regards to gatherings for worship.
Pinder noted that all holy water stoops at the church doors should be emptied, as well as baptismal fountains.
“The distribution of the Precious Blood during Communion is temporarily suspended,” he advised.
“Physical contact such as, handshaking during the Sign of Peace, and holding hands during the recitation of the Our Father, is temporarily suspended.
“For the time being, communion should be distributed in the hand and not on the tongue,”
Pinder further advised that the celebrant will now have to use a verbal greeting and refrain from physical contract while greeting parishioners before and after Mass.
He encouraged all parishioners with respiratory flu-like symptoms to stay at home.
“As our circumstances change with regard to COVID-19, these guidelines will be modified accordingly and you will be duly informed,” Pinder added.
“In the meantime, let us pray for all those who have contracted coronavirus in other countries that they may be restored to full health.
“Let us pray too that we may be spared any outbreak of this disease among us.”
Last week, the government expanded its COVID-19 travel restrictions to deny entry to non-residents that have traveled to Iran, South Korea, and Italy in the last 20 days.
Bahamians and residents returning from those countries, along with China, will now be subjected to quarantine measures for a maximum of 14 days.
The move was announced in a press statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), which pointed to compelling data indicating a prevalence of new cases emerging from those three countries.
The ministry noted non-residents currently en route to The Bahamas from these jurisdictions will be subjected to the same protocol for returning citizens and residents.
The virus, which originated in Wuhan, China, has spread to more than 100 countries, according to the World Health Organization.
There have been over 105,000 cases of COVID-19 globally and over 3,500 deaths.