TORONTO (CNS): Cleanliness and godliness are getting ever closer as Toronto deals with an outbreak of deadly, atypical pneumonia.
At least 10 Canadian residents have died, hospitals have shut out visitors and patients are quarantined at home with SARS – severe acute respiratory syndrome.
Ontario’s provincial health authorities declared a ‘code orange’ health emergency in the greater Toronto area, then later expanded the emergency to cover all Ontario hospitals.
Precautions have made their way into area churches, as well.
At Saviour of the World Catholic Mission in Mississauga, Ontario, Fr John Lung wore a surgical mask to hear confessions and while distributing Communion. He suspended any sharing of consecrated wine during Communion in his parish. He washed his hands with antibacterial soap and provided soap for parishioners.
SARS originated in China and came to the notice of the world in Hong Kong. Concern about SARS has been particularly high in Toronto’s Chinese community of more than 400,000.
‘We are concerned about the disease’ said Fr Lung. He said precautions included asking those who had recently come from Hong Kong or China to stay home for at least two weeks.
‘They don’t need to come to church,’ he added.
Archdiocesan officials drew up guidelines on April 1 after consulting with Toronto’s medical officer of health.
‘Going to Mass is not a risk’ is the advice Church representatives received from health officials, said communications director Suzanne Scorsone.