Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church announced, on Sunday, the suspension of some of its activities for a month, to help curb the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The decision has come after the Coptic Church’s constant monitoring of an increase in infections and deaths among its priests, due to their becoming infected with the coronavirus.
In a statement, the Church authorities, which is headed by Pope Tawadros II, said that after an increase in the number of new cases, it has decided to work with churches in Cairo and Alexandria to suspend some of its activities. These include Sunday schools, meetings, and all services, in order to protect society.
It has also decided to suspend the month of Kiahk evenings, and instead follow the recorded nights that will be broadcast on Christian satellite channels. Funeral prayers will be held with only one priest and one deacon, along with the family of the deceased, preferably in cemetery churches.
Baptisms can be conducted in the presence of family only, with no more than four individuals present. Studies will continue in seminaries, institutes and educational centres, but with a maximum attendance of only 25%, and church officials and members must apply all government-proscribed precautionary measures.
Pastor Boulos Halim, Spokesperson for the Coptic Orthodox Church, said that the church has lost a large number of priests due to the coronavirus, since the beginning of the pandemic.
In press statements, Halim added that the virus has claimed the lives of 16 priests across the country so far, including five in the last two days.
He stressed that all Egyptians must take responsibility for applying the precautions well. Citizens must also follow the official instructions issued by the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO), and follow precautionary measures and preventive controls in line with the state’s plan to confront the coronavirus.
Halim added that Egypt has now entered the second wave of the coronavirus, which requires taking personal precautions and other measures.
In late August, Egypt’s churches gradually resumed their activities and services, and held the first mass after a hiatus of more than four months due to the COVID-19 crisis.
“Churches designated teams of scouts at their doors to measure the temperature of worshipers, with churches also sterilised before and after each prayer,” Halim said, “This comes alongside maintaining social distancing, with only 25% of the carrying capacity in each church.”