No hugs, handshakes as churches take precautions against coronavirus

African Divine Church worshippers during a past in Mombasa. Churches around the country are responding to the announcement of coronavirus in Kenya. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • Reverend George Shiramba of Karura Community Chapel said the church still plans to host Sunday services, but leaders are carefully and constantly monitoring the situation.
  • In some Catholic churches, communion, holy water and sign of peace have been changed.

Churches and parishes across the country are taking precautions after the government confirmed first case of the new coronavirus in Kenya.

On Friday, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe invoked Public Health Act to stop the virus in its tracks. Mr Kagwe suspended all public meetings and events that have large gatherings.

But he said churches will continue to operate as usual as long they provide hand sanitisers for their congregants.

After the announcement, multiple churches throughout the country announced they are taking proactive steps in preparing for it.

Karura Community Chapel, which draws around 2,000 attendees for services every weekend, said hand sanitisers will be in the church compound and in all classrooms.

Reverend George Shiramba of Karura Community Chapel said the church still plans to host Sunday services, but leaders are carefully and constantly monitoring the situation, and are taking measures to provide a safe environment for churchgoers.

Other Parishes urged caution and the use of streaming services.

Here is how churches are trying to keep congregants safe amid coronavirus outbreak:

1. Shrine Of Mary Help of Christians, Upper Hill – Suspending Jumuia masses or services outside church for 30 days. Priests to give communion strictly in the hand and not on the tongue.

There will be no sign of peace by shaking hands in all masses. There will be no holy water dishes at the doors. The sacrament of confession to be outside where there is free movement of the air.

2. Seventh-Day Adventist Church, Lavington - Members asked to feel free to livestream services from their homes. Church lunch suspended until further notice. Sunday club and choir practices suspended.

3. Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Catholic Church, Ridgeways - Sign of peace omitted during mass. Holy water at the entrance door has been removed.

4. Redeemed Christian Church of God - The church has issued guidelines for all its parishes in Kenya for dealing with the spread of the virus. Handshakes and hugs have been suspended.

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