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Churches cancel Easter services to curb COVID-19 spread

The Methodist Church has can­celled Good Fri­day and East­er Sun­day ser­vices to com­bat the spread of the Coro­n­avirus and the Mus­lim Judi­cial Coun­cil (MJC) has can­celled Fri­day prayer.

In addi­tion, the Zion Chris­t­ian Church (ZCC) has can­celled its annu­al Moria pil­grim­age.

Speak­ing on Thurs­day dur­ing a meet­ing with lead­ers of diverse com­mu­ni­ties of faith to rein­force the nation­al response to the COVID-19 out­break, the Pres­i­dent said the announce­ments were no doubt reached through great dif­fi­cul­ty.

“Dur­ing April, mil­lions of our peo­ple tra­di­tion­al­ly make their way to var­i­ous domes­tic loca­tions for reli­gious pil­grim­ages or vis­it holy sites abroad, as our Mus­lim broth­ers and sis­ters do to Mec­ca to per­form the umrah.

“As gov­ern­ment we whol­ly appre­ci­ate the chal­lenges this presents on a num­ber of fronts,” said Pres­i­dent Ramaphosa.

At the meet­ing, which took place at the Sefako Mak­gatho Pres­i­den­tial Guest­house, Tshwane, the Pres­i­dent expressed his appre­ci­a­tion to reli­gious lead­ers for their coop­er­a­tion in fight­ing the scourge of the out­break.

“This is some­thing we keen­ly appre­ci­ate. As reli­gious lead­ers, you have shown your sup­port for the nation­al effort, and we thank you for this,” said the Pres­i­dent.

On Sun­day, the Pres­i­dent declared a nation­al state of dis­as­ter in response to the out­break of the Coro­n­avirus.

The Pres­i­dent lim­it­ed the size of pub­lic gath­er­ings to no more than 100 peo­ple to ensure that there is con­tain­ment of the coro­n­avirus which can be trans­mit­ted from one per­son to anoth­er, with even the most lim­it­ed con­tact.

On Wednes­day, South Africa tipped over the 100 pos­i­tive cas­es mark and record­ed a 116 con­firmed Coro­n­avirus cas­es.

The Pres­i­dent fur­ther called on reli­gious lead­ers to make use of their plat­forms and reach, to edu­cate and inform com­mu­ni­ties about the Coro­n­avirus.

“I want to call on you to extend your coop­er­a­tion with us as gov­ern­ment in reduc­ing the impact of the coro­n­avirus across all sec­tors of soci­ety. Mil­lions of South Africans are at risk of con­tract­ing coro­n­avirus not just in places of wor­ship, but in bus­es and taxis, in the work­place, and even in their homes.

“This risk is greater in poor com­mu­ni­ties, many of which do not have access to safe and clean drink­ing water, and who are forced by cir­cum­stances to live in close prox­im­i­ty to oth­ers,” he said.

Funer­als

With reli­gious lead­ers form­ing part of the cor­ner­stone of soci­ety and pre­sid­ing over funer­als, the Pres­i­dent urged them to dri­ve home the mes­sage that while sen­si­tive and dif­fi­cult to man­age, no event is exempt from the reg­u­la­tions, includ­ing funer­als.

“It is also nec­es­sary to clar­i­fy that the reg­u­la­tions around gath­er­ings over 100 peo­ple also apply to funer­als, over which our reli­gious lead­ers pre­side.

“We call upon you to engage with bereaved fam­i­lies in the prepara­to­ry stages to impress upon them to con­fine the bur­ial con­gre­ga­tion to only close fam­i­ly wher­ev­er pos­si­ble,” said the Pres­i­dent.

The Pres­i­dent fur­ther high­light­ed that giv­en the high preva­lence of HIV, Aids and Tuber­cu­lo­sis in the coun­try, COVID-19 could have a dev­as­tat­ing impact on soci­ety.

“The Thu­ma Mina moment is upon us, per­haps as nev­er before. Let us keep the nation’s spir­its up and remind them that we are doing every­thing with­in our means to keep them safe.

“We are in this togeth­er, and it is by work­ing togeth­er that we will pre­vail. We are, and for­ev­er will remain, our brother’s and sister’s keep­er,” he said. – SAnews.gov.za

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