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Goa Churches step up precautions against Coronavirus spread





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Panaji: From avoiding handshakes to modifying traditional religious practices, churches in Goa are taking various measures in view of the coronavirus scare, while priests at various temples have started wearing masks.

Apart from restricting the flow of Holy Water at stoups, many churches have stopped offering communion to followers in their mouth as has been the custom. Communion is the service of Christian worship at which bread and wine are consecrated and shared.

Parish priests have emptied out holy water stoups installed at the entrance of churches to avoid the risk of their acting as breeding ground for any kind of virus.

During mass, priests are informing people about various precautions to be taken to keep novel coronavirus at bay. The sermons now include references to food intake that would boost immunity.

Fr Eremito Rebello of the Church of Our Lady of Snow at Rachol village in South Goa said on Tuesday though there are no formal instructions from the Archbishop’s Palace to adopt any such measures, priests are taking these initiatives on their own.

“Holy water has been temporarily reduced from the entrance of the church to rule out the possibility of spread of virus. Also, the Holy communion is not being given in the mouth but on the hand of Christian devotees,” he said.

Priests have been asking people to avoid greeting each other with a handshake and instead offer a smile or bow, he said.

Though not a single case of confirmed novel coronavirus has been reported from the tourist state so far, the fear seems to be spreading in temples as well.

Priests at several temples, including the famous Mangueshi temple in North Goa, have started wearing masks while on duty.

The state government is taking various measures in view of the coronavirus scare. The state health department has kept 19 patients under home observation.

The Mormugao Port Trust has banned the entry of cruise vessels till March 31 in view of the novel coronavirus threat.

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