The Catholic church has announced that it is closing all its churches in Zimbabwe with immediate effect in an effort to help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
In a statement, the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference (ZCBC) said it had resolved to close all Catholic churches for public liturgical services and church related gatherings with immediate effect until further notice to allow for effective self-isolation for all.
However, the ZCBC said “all Priests should, however, continue to celebrate mass in their parishes without a congregation on a daily basis. The continuing celebration of mass ensures that the faithful can join in spiritual communion with the priests of the church”.
The Catholic bishops said they wanted their congregants to understand that the coronavirus pandemic was an emergency circumstance, and that for as long as it lasted, the obligation to attend mass on Sundays and Holy Days was removed.
They said they would not be conducting pastoral visits to those who are isolating, but if need be, they would offer support via the phone.
“Let us leave burials to close family members and associates, even for clergy and religious, in this season of the pandemic, which we pray will be short,” the ZCBC said.
The government has barred gatherings of more than 50 people in an effort to combat the spread of the coronavirus, which all but made it impossible for churches to congregate.
So far, Zimbabwe has confirmed two cases of the coronavirus, with one fatality recorded.
Globally, the virus has killed 17 250 people, while 396 200 have been infected.