By OBINNA EZUGWU
The Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion has banned members from exchanging handshakes and hugs during the exchange of peace over Coronavirus (COVID-19), even as it called on members not to over spiritualise the virus.
The church which gave the instructions in statement to members signed by Venerable Gershinen Paul Dajur, PhD, its General Secretary, on behalf of the Archbishops and Bishops on Thursday, encouraged the populace to observe personal hygiene as a way of preventing the virus from spreading.
“The Church of Nigeria has prayerfully followed the development and reaction of governments and organizations in handling the threats of Coronavirus dubbed “COVID 19.” COVID 19 is a pandemic that needs to be handled with all seriousness,” the statement read.
“While we continue praying to God for help on this issue, the leadership of the Church of Nigeria under His Grace, the Most Rev’d Dr Nicholas D. Okoh has directed that certain steps be taken as guides against contacting and communicating the virus among our people.
1. Let the church be encouraged to trust God who is well able to help us in our times of trouble (Psa. 46:1). This is the time to trust and obey God than to be anxious and panic (Phil 4:6-7).
2. Since this virus is communicable, the church is to prayerfully put on hold the sharing of one chalice to all during Holy Communion. Other smaller communion cups should be used for individual communication. Also, handshakes and hugs during the exchange of peace should be substituted with non-contagious gestures such as hand waving, mutual bowing, or making the sign of the cross etc.
3. Priests and church members who observe symptoms similar to that of COVID 19 on themselves should call the hospital immediately for examination.
4. Let everyone be encouraged to observe a good personal hygiene through proper washing of hands with soap or hand sanitizer; covering of mouth with handkerchief when sneezing or coughing etc. Water and soap for washing of hands as well as hand
“5. READ, STUDY, and IMPLEMENT important safety tips from World Health Organization (WHO) www.who.int or Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) www.covid19.ncdc.gov.ng; and https://infographics.channelnewsasia.com/covid-19/map.html on how to handle yourself in a time like this.
”These are temporary guides given in good spirit to help us while we navigate our way through the challenge of the pandemic of COVID 19.
“Please do not oversimplify, underrate, overrate, overreact or over spiritualize this issue of COVID 19. “From lightning, fire, and tempest; from earthquake, drought, and flood; from famine, plague, and pestilence. Good Lord, deliver us” (BCP).