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Preventative measures against coronavirus transmission in Jakarta, Indonesia. Preventative measures against coronavirus transmission in Jakarta, Indonesia.   (ANSA)

Indonesian Church urges faithful to pray for nation as virus spreads

In a video message, Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo is urging Catholics to be vigilant and steadfast in prayer as the country is trying to cope with the coronavirus outbreak.

By Robin Gomes

The Catholic Church in Indonesia is urging the faithful to stay calm and cooperate with the nation’s efforts in trying to contain the spread of the coronavirus, officially known as Covid-19. It said the crisis is also a moment to grow in faith, brotherhood and compassion.

“I call on [my] brothers and sisters to take heed of our national leaders and try not to panic and worry. We hope and believe that everything will return to normal,” Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo of Jakarta urged, seeking to calm growing fears as the nation grapples with the spread of the virus.

The cardinal who is Chairman of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Indonesia (KWI), released a 3-minute YouTube video, expressing gratitude to medical workers and others battling the outbreak since the announcement of the first 2 cases early this month. He described the current situation as “a challenge to humanity and faith.”

Prayer

“Let us pray for our brothers and sisters who become victims of this virus. For those who died from this virus, may their souls rest in eternal peace. For those who are sick, may they be healed,” Cardinal Suharyo said.

“Let us pray for our national leaders, medical workers and all individuals involved in efforts to restore normality. May God bless them with everything they need so that they can meet their responsibilities.”

Faith, brotherhood, compassion

Cardinal Suharyo also called on Catholics to grow in faith, brotherhood and compassion during the crisis. “May our Merciful God take care and protect all of us,” he said.

The 69-year old Archbishop, whom Pope Francis made a cardinal in October, also issued some guidelines regarding liturgical celebrations and church services during the crisis.  

They include measures such as disinfecting church interiors before holding Eucharistic celebrations, providing hand sanitizers, emptying fonts of holy water, placing collection boxes at church entrances and, if possible, disinfecting also church grounds.  

Under-reporting 

The world's fourth most populous country, Indonesia on Thursday reported 309 cases of infection from no cases less than 3 weeks ago. The death toll rose to 25, higher than any other Southeast Asian nation. On Wednesday, the number of infected people stood at 227.

President Joko Widodo on Thursday called for stepping up testing immediately. 

The country of 260 million is reported to have tested only 1,592 people.

According to the Indonesian Red Cross Society, the country is likely to have a far higher number of coronavirus cases than it has reported due to low levels of testing. The nation needs to consider tougher measures like lockdowns, Jusuf Kalla, its chairman told Reuters.

The contagion that erupted in Wuhan in central China in December, has spread across the globe. In the latest update on Thursday, the virus has infected 232,537confirmed infections worldwide with 9,718 reported deaths.  

Outside China, Italy has the heaviest load with a total of 41,035 infections and 3,405 deaths. The entire nation is under lockdown to prevent the spread of the infection. 

19 March 2020, 19:43