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Church of Ireland worshippers to get coronavirus advice

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Determined: Medical Officer Michael McBride

Determined: Medical Officer Michael McBride

Determined: Medical Officer Michael McBride

The Church of Ireland is planning to issue guidance to worshippers on measures they can take to reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission at church services.

The move follows an initiative by the Church of England on the emerging health crisis which has already claimed the lives of more than a thousand people worldwide.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph last night, a Church of Ireland spokesman said: "'Specific guidance for parishes relating to pandemic flu is under consideration.

"The Church of Ireland would encourage parishes to follow all public health guidance provided by state authorities."

James Newcome, the Bishop of Carlisle and the Church of England's spokesman on health issues, told reporters: "We pray for all those affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) here and around the world, particularly in China, and for all those caring for them.

"The virus not been declared a pandemic and at present the risk in this country is assessed as 'moderate'.

"However, there are, of course some practical measures churches can take.

"Much of that is simply maintaining good hygiene including, for example, priests and servers washing their hands and using hand sanitiser before Holy Communion. Although there is not currently Government advice suggesting churches should suspend the use of the Common Cup, parishioners with coughs and sneezes should certainly be encouraged to receive Communion in one-kind only and to refrain from handshaking during The Peace."

Northern Ireland's Public Health Agency confirmed that 21 people have so far been tested for the coronavirus here.

None of these cases has tested positive.

Northern Ireland's Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride told MLAs this week that health officials are determined to stop coronavirus "in its tracks".

The Catholic Church and the Presbyterian Church were contacted in relation to this story.

Belfast Telegraph