The Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church released a statement Saturday evening calling on the suspension of all church-related activities such as Sunday school and any public gatherings in efforts to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
The statement was released shortly after President Abdel Fattah el Sisi’s announcement of the closure of schools and universities for two weeks.
According to the statement, the church has called on cancelling Sunday school, any public gatherings such as meetings or trips and any educational programs. In addition to this, a decision has been taken to increase the amount of daily masses in attempts to avoid a high number of attendees all at once – this will especially be enforced during public holidays and special events.
The church also urges people not to attend mass if they are feeling unwell, and for everyone who attends to bring their own water, handkerchiefs, scarves and private personal belongings rather than share.
Egyptian authorities have already called on the suspension of events that may include large gatherings, such as religious festivals, concerts, exhibitions and sporting activities.
Since the coronavirus outbreak, Egypt has reportedly had 109 confirmed cases and recorded two deaths related to the disease.
A hotline “105” has been created to receive citizens’ inquiries regarding the virus as well as report potential acquisition.
CORONAVIRUS DECLARED ‘PANDEMIC’
The viral disease that has swept at least 114 countries worldwide and killed more than 5,800 people is now officially a pandemic, the World Health Organization declared on Wednesday.
“In the days and weeks ahead, we expect to see the number of cases, the number of deaths and the number of affected countries climb even higher,” WHO Director-General Tedros declared at a briefing in Geneva, “We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic.”
By declaring the coronavirus a pandemic, this makes it the first time the WHO has called an outbreak a pandemic since the H1N1 “swine flu” in 2009, and puts the coronavirus in a different category than the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa and the Zika virus outbreak in 2016.
A real-time map is now tracking the spread of the outbreak globally with the full list of confirmed cases, recoveries and deaths.