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How Catholics across the nation are dealing with rising infection rates

Awards: Townsville Bishop Tim Harris and Townsville Catholic Education executive director Jacqui Francis with 12 students, suitably spaced for social distancing requirements, from around the diocese who were awarded Deus Est Caritas awards at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

MELBOURNE Archbishop Peter Comensoli lowered his surgical mask to kiss the altar at St Patrick’s Cathedral and fastened it again to incense the sanctuary at last Sunday’s Mass.

Masking and unmasking was becoming a familiar sight for the five thousand Catholics who tuned in to the livestream as Melbourne archdiocese introduced new rules for liturgical celebrations on July 22.

Those practices were unlikely to change anytime soon as Victoria recorded 10 deaths from COVID-19 on the same day.

Another 732 cases and 13 deaths were recorded today, Thursday, July 30.

Workplaces were the prime transmission point and Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said, when asked about meatworks particularly, the next steps might “include closing a number of these industries if we continue to see people attending work”.

“We have to work together to keep anyone who’s got symptoms away from work,” he said.

He warned the costs of letting sick people come to work outweighed any benefits.

Sydney had its share of cases too with more Catholics caught up in virus clusters.

Four confirmed COVID-19 cases were linked to a woman who attended multiple church services in Sydney.

She visited St Brendan’s Catholic Church at Bankstown, Rookwood Cemetery and Our Lady of Mt Carmel church at Mt Pritchard.

New South Wales health officials urged people who had been at the churches to self-isolate and get tested.

Officials told people to self-isolate even if they tested negative.

Three Catholic schools in Sydney’s west also closed after four students tested positive to coronavirus.

In Townsville diocese, Catholic schools were celebrating their awards with a little more space.

Townsville Bishop Tim Harris and Townsville Catholic Education executive director Jacqui Francis presented the Deus Caritas Est awards to 12 diocese senior students.

Each recipient received a medal and a small bursary to be donated to their charity of choice, giving hope especially at a time of pandemic.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she was prepared to “slam the border shut” as rates of community transmission grew in NSW.

“We will not hesitate, if it gets out of control, to slam the border shut,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“Let me reassure Queenslanders once again, every single day we are monitoring what is happening in New South Wales.”

Queensland had five active cases at time of writing with two people in hospital.

Globally, COVID-19 had killed 650,000 people and infected 16 million.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised his country’s efforts, saying they “proved the world wrong”.

Masked: A person in a protective face mask walks along the Princes Bridge in Melbourne, Australia, July 17, 2020, during a lockdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: CNS/Daniel Pockett

India recorded 48,661 cases on Sunday alone and has recorded 1.3 million cases and 32,000 deaths.

Research by India’s National Centre for Disease Control suggested nearly one in four residents in Delhi – the country’s worst hit city – have the virus.

The United States continued to lead the world with more than 4 million infections and 144,000 deaths.

US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Dr Anthony Fauci said the pandemic was of historic proportion.

“I think we cannot deny that fact,” he said.

“It is something that when we look back in history, it will be comparable to what we saw in 1918,” he said, referring to the deadly influenza epidemic that lasted from February 1918 to April 1920 and infected 500 million people around the world.

The US had seen unprecedented spikes in recent weeks as the country had begun to open up their lockdowns, despite having the highest case load in the world.

Stanford University Hoover Institute senior fellow Dr Scott Atlas said there was no correlation between the reopening of states and the increase in cases, attributing the rise to large public demonstrations taking place since May 25, the day George Floyd died while in police custody.

“If you look at the timing, it is just a misstatement and false narrative.

“The reality is that it might correlate to the recent massive demonstrations. Suffice it to say that the majority of cases come from younger healthier people.”

Case data suggested Pacific Islanders were disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

Pacific Islanders were being hospitalised at up to 10 times the rate of some other racial groups.

In Hawaii, Pacific Islanders were four per cent of the state’s population but accounted for 25 per cent of COVID-19 cases.

Two Italian missionaries serving the poor have died from COVID-19 in Madagascar.

They had spent decades serving the African country and remained close to the population even during the pandemic.

Vincentian Father Albano Passarotto, 80, and Don Luigi Piotto, 65, died on July 21 and 23, respectively.

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