Lit candles are seen at Saint Joseph's Roman Catholic Church on Christmas eve in Cairo, Egypt December 24, 2017 Reuters
The Catholic Church in Egypt announced on Monday that it has decided to reduce the number of participants in masses and other religious events as part of its efforts to counter the surge of coronavirus cases in the country.
According to the statement of the Catholic church, the number of participants in masses may not exceed a maximum of 40 percent of the church’s capacity with safety measures, such as social distancing, enforced inside the churches.
The Church added that each diocese may hold masses twice on Friday and Sunday, depending on conditions, to give all participants a chance to attend while avoiding large gatherings.
The Church requested that all participants wear masks inside the church and use sanitisers, and that priests ensure the church, alter tools, and Bibles are disinfected after every mass.
Priests are required to wear masks and sanitise their hands during communion. During these exceptional times, priests are required to put the consecrated bread in the hands of the participants instead of in their mouths directly to limit transmission of the virus.
According to the Church, priests are also not allowed to hold communion for children less than 6 years old.
Concerning Christmas mass, the Church said the mass will be held in all churches with the precautionary measures mentioned above, however an additional mass will be held on the feast’s morning according to the needs of each diocese to reduce the number of participants in each mass.
Funerals, weddings, and baptisms will be held with a capacity of only 25% with social distancing rules applied.
Weekly meetings, Sunday schools, and the Koiak month prayers in Egypt, as well as lectures and trips have been suspended till further notice.
The recommendations of the Catholic Church in Egypt come after the Coptic Orthodox Church suspended masses for one month over rising coronavirus cases among its clergymen and churchgoers in Cairo and Alexandria.
Last week the Coptic Orthodox Church lost 5 priests who died due to coronavirus in three governorates in 48 hours.
Egypt has witnessed an increase in the daily coronavirus infection toll recorded over the last several weeks, with daily infections exceeding the 400 mark following months of a lower and steady rate.
The virus has so far infected 118,432 and killed 6,771 in the country since the outbreak began in February.