Burkinabé Archbishop First African Catholic Prelate Known to Test Positive for COVID-19

Msgr. Séraphin François Rouamba, Archbishop emeritus of Burkina Faso’s Koupela Archdiocese, the first African Catholic Prelate known to test positive for COVID-19.
Credit: Public Domain

The Archbishop emeritus of Burkina Faso’s Koupela Archdiocese, Séraphin François Rouamba has tested positive for COVID-19, the Episcopal Conference of Burkina Faso and Niger (CEBN) has confirmed in a March 25 statement.

“On the night of Thursday, March 19, 2020, His Excellency Archbishop Séraphin François Rouamba, Archbishop Emeritus of Koupela, was urgently admitted to the Our Lady of Peace Clinic for treatment,” reads in part CEBN’s statement availed to ACI Africa.

Archbishop Rouamba is receiving treatment at a health facility designated for COVID-19 patients in his country’s capital, Ouagadougou, the Bishops in Burkina Faso and Niger have disclosed in their collective statement.

“Having tested positive for Covid-19, he was transferred on the 24th to the hospital of Tengandogo CHU-T in Ouagadougou, (an institution set up to receive patients suffering from Covid-19) which finally referred him to the "Princess Sarah" clinic where he continues his treatment,” the Bishops have stated in their collective message signed by CEBN President, Bishop Laurent Dabire.

The 78-year-old Burkinabé Archbishop becomes the first African Catholic Prelate known to test positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus that has infected at least 365,371 people across the globe.

The pandemic has claimed more than 23,000 lives globally, among them, at least 60 Catholic priests, most of them in Northern Italy.

A number of Bishops have contracted the deadly virus and one, the Apostolic Vicar of Ethiopia’s Gambella Vicariate, became the first Catholic Prelate known to die of the disease.

The collective message of the Bishops of Burkina Faso and Niger indicates that the hospitalized Burkinabé Archbishop is in a stable condition.

“The state of health of Msgr. Séraphin François Rouamba is judged to be stable and encouraging,” the Bishops have stated and added, “Bishop Séraphin himself has given news of his condition by telephone.”

In the CEBN statement, all those who came into physical contact with Archbishop Rouamba have been advised to “quarantine themselves and to follow the procedure given by the Ministry of Health in these cases.”

The Bishops have further disclosed that “some people who assisted Msgr. Séraphin François Rouamba are already in quarantine.”

News of Archbishop Rouamba having contracted COVID-19 went viral on social media with reports that there are other clergymen who have tested positive for the disease, claims that the Bishops have negated.

“This is not the case so far, and, thank God,” the Catholic Church leaders have stated and added in reference to clerics who have recently jetted back to Burkina Faso from countries with recorded cases of COVID-19, “All of them who have recently returned from their trip have put themselves in self-quarantine as soon as they arrived and, for the moment, there has been nothing to report.”

In the statement, the Bishops have invited “all the faithful to persevere in prayer and to entrust to the Lord, in a special way, all the sick and the medical staff.”

Burkina Faso is the country worst-hit by COVID-19 in West Africa, with 146 confirmed cases and five deaths. Some 10 patients have fully recovered from the virus. Meanwhile, four government Ministers (foreign affairs, mines, education, and the interior) have tested positive for COVID-19, a government spokesman said Saturday, March 21.

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ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.

Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa
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