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Hong Kong residents must wear face masks in public Hong Kong residents must wear face masks in public  (AFP or licensors)

Hong Kong Cardinal extends suspension of public Masses amid Covid-19 surge

With Covid-19 cases rising quickly in Hong Kong leading to concerns over a “third wave”, Cardinal John Tong cancels all public Masses until further notice.

By Devin Watkins

The Catholic Church in Hong Kong has announced the extension, until further notice, of anti-pandemic measures put in place recently to combat viral transmission.

The Diocesan Chancery published the notice on Monday, which extends the guidelines announced on 14 July.

Cardinal John Tong, it said, made the decision because “the situation of the Covid-19 pandemic has continued to deteriorate over the past two weeks and the Government will probably adopt even more stringent anti-pandemic measures soon”.

What do the measures require?

The Church's measures include a ban on public Masses held on Sundays and weekdays. Weddings are allowed with a limit of 20 people, and funerals may be held with no restrictions on the number of participants.

Churches and chapels remain open to allow the faithful to stop in for personal prayer or to visit the Blessed Sacrament.

However, social distancing is to be enforced, masks must be worn, and everyone’s body temperature should be checked upon entry.

The guidelines urge Catholics to take part in online Masses, to receive Communion spiritually, or to reflect on the Sunday readings or pray the Rosary.

What is the situation in Hong Kong?

Cardinal Tong’s decision to extend those precautions came as the territory clocked in record numbers of Covid-19 cases.

Authorities have reported new infections in the triple digits for seven straight days, with 145 on Monday — a daily record — and 106 on Tuesday. Most cases are the result of community spread.

Hong Kong’s Hospital Authority says new cases are being found faster than public hospitals can take them in.

In response, the government on Monday banned gatherings of more than two people, closed all restaurants, and made wearing face masks in public mandatory.

The measures take effect on Wednesday and will last for seven days.

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28 July 2020, 11:48