Churches and other religious groups are now ramping up measures to protect their members from the Covid-19 disease caused by the new coronavirus.The World Health Organization (WHO) warned Tuesday that it’s now deadlier than the flu.
“Globally, about 3.4 percent of reported Covid-19 cases have died,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO’s director general, said at a news conference in Geneva, Switzerland. “By comparison, seasonal flu generally kills far fewer than 1 percent of those infected.”
As of Tuesday more than 90,000 people had been infected with the new coronavirus with more than 3,100 deaths globally.
“This virus is not SARS, it’s not MERS, and it’s not influenza,” Tedros emphasized at the news conference. “It is a unique virus with unique characteristics.”
Tedros also highlighted other differences between the coronavirus and the flu, which are both primarily spread from small droplets from the nose or mouth. For instance, a lot of the transmission of the flu is driven by infected people who aren’t showing symptoms. In the case of the coronavirus, infected people not showing symptoms only accounts for a small fraction of the spread.
The spread of the coronavirus can also be contained, unlike the flu. The new strain of coronavirus causes more severe illness than the flu, Tedros said, because “there are not yet any vaccines or therapeutics … which is why we must do everything we can to contain it.”
And as at least 15 states in the U.S. reported coronavirus cases, religious leaders have been responding as needed as the warnings against the disease grow more urgent.
Instead of shaking hands during Sunday mass at St. Mary Catholic Church in southeastern Wisconsin, hundreds of parishioners, on the advice of their pastor, greeted each other with gentle bows for the sign of peace ritual, The New York Times reported.
Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, the Episcopal bishop of Indianapolis, Indiana, announced changes to worship in a note to members, including a switch from ceramic chalices to metal in an effort to limit the spread of germs.
“It’s all about education and trying to help, both putting people at ease and giving them what they need to make good decisions about their well-being,” Bishop Baskerville-Burrows told The New York Times.