Amid Surge in South Africa’s COVID-19 Cases, Bishop Urges Adherence to Preventive Measures

Catholics observing COVID-19 directives during Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral in South Africa's Kroonstad Diocese. Credit: Diocese of Kroonstad/Facebook

The Catholic Bishop of South Africa’s Kroonstad Diocese has, in a statement, urged Catholics to strictly adhere to COVID-19 preventive measures amid a surge in infections in the country, especially in the territory covered by the Diocese.

“What is disturbing news is that the Free State Province where our Diocese is situated is one of the hotspots of the third wave,” Bishop Peter John Holiday says in the statement issued Monday, May 31.

In the statement, Bishop Holiday appeals “to all our parish communities to maintain the protocols which are already in place.” 

On May 31, President Cyril Ramaphosa reimposed stricter measures against COVID-19 fearing the whole country will soon face a third wave of the pandemic.

According to President Ramaphosa, the restrictions will force non-essential establishments like restaurants, bars and fitness centres to close by 10 p.m. local time as the curfew will be extended by an hour to start at 11 p.m. and end at 4 a.m.


Gatherings, including political and faith events, will be limited to 250 people outdoors and 100 indoors.

South Africa is battling a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic caused by a new mutation of the disease identified as the 501.V2 variant. The new strain has led to a spike in infections that have crossed the one million mark.

The country has recorded at least 1.67 million COVID-19 cases, 1.56 million recoveries and 56,711 deaths. 

“I ask the Priests with PPC’s to manage the situation at the Parish Church. Funerals are allowed to have 100 people. So, I ask the Priests to have two Masses on a Sunday to meet these restrictions,” the Local Ordinary of Kroonstad directs in his May 31 message.

He urges the people of God in Kroonstad to adhere to the set restrictions and cooperate with patience to enable as many of them as possible to take part in Holy Mass on weekends.  

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“The Catechists are to see that the children wear masks, sanitize and keep social distance. The same for those attending the RCIA program. Sodalities and other church groups to keep all protocols,” Bishop Holiday says.

He notes that as the country is battling against the third wave of the pandemic, everyone’s health across the country should be of importance. 

“We all have a responsibility to care about our brothers and sisters at this very disturbing time. Let us continue to pray for healing being assured that God is with us,” the 69-year-old Catholic Church leader says. 

Earlier this year, South Africa received one million doses of India-produced Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine toward curbing the pandemic. 

However, the country’s leadership put on hold the rollout of the vaccine after checks on the first batch of the doses showed "disappointing" response against the 501.V2 variant of COVID-19.


In a  message issued February 13, Bishop Holiday asked South Africans to make a personal decision on whether or not they want to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

“In the matter concerning the vaccines it is up to the individual to make that choice. Catholics use their conscience in making a decision,” Bishop Holiday said, and added, “The Church's guidance on such a matter is that we must take care of our health – to use medication that is good for a person’s health to promote life.”