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Zambia’s Kasama Archdiocese Closes 3 Parishes as Priests, Staff Test Positive for COVID-19

Three Parishes of Zambia’s Kasama Archdiocese have been closed for two weeks after Priests and members of staff working in these Parishes tested positive for COVID-19. 

The Local Ordinary of Kasama, Archbishop Ignatius Chama directed the closure of the three Parishes on Thursday, January 21 “with immediate effect,” the Communication Secretary in the Archdiocese of Kasama, Fr. Nicholas Kaliminwa reported the same day.

In the report shared with ACI Africa, the Fr. Kaliminwa says that Archbishop Chama’s decision to close the Parishes was based on the fact that “some Priests and Parish staff in the affected Parishes have tested positive for COVID-19.” 

The affected Parishes include St. Margaret Mungwi Parish, St. Kizito Henry Kapata Parish, and St. Peter’s Luwingu Parish.

Those who had visited the Clerics and Staff members infected with COVID-19 are to “go for coronavirus testing,” the Zambian Archbishop directed.

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He also urged the people of God under his pastoral care to continue observing the coronavirus health guidelines the authorities have given out,” reports Fr. Kaliminwa. 

The closure of the Parishes in Kasama Archdiocese comes amid an upsurge in the reported cases of COVID-19 infections in Zambia.

The landlocked Southern African nation has recorded at least 43,333 cases of the coronavirus including 610 deaths and 32,667 recoveries. 

On January 13, Bishop Moses Hamungole of the country’s Monze Diocese succumbed to the disease while receiving treatment at the Lusaka-based Levy Mwanawasa Hospital.

Fr. Charles Chilinda, a member of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), and Fr. Patrick Muyenga, a Capuchin Friar, also succumbed to COVID-19 while receiving treatment at Lusaka’s Maina Soko Military Hospital on January 21.

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In a statement issued January 8, Catholic Bishops in the country expressed concern about the increase in the reported COVID-19 cases and called on the people of God in Zambia to exercise vigilance and observe precautionary measures previously issued by various authorities.

“There is an escalation in both the number of confirmed cases and the number of deaths,” the members of the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) said. 

In their collective statement signed by the Director for Health in ZCCB, Bishop Patrick Chisanga, the Bishops also called on every Zambian to “critically think about protecting yourselves and others.”

“It is the moral responsibility of everyone to ensure that Zambia does not plunge into the undesirable worst possible scenario,” ZCCB members said.

In a separate statement issued January 13, the leadership of the Zambia-based Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) expressed concerns about laxity in the implementation of the COVID-19 measures as cases of the virus increase in the country.

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“When the first wave of COVID-19 hit Zambia in March 2020, we all scampered and took cover. Compliance to guidelines for fighting COVID-19 was at highest in the first three months. We soon developed familiarity with the virus as statistics played out in our favour with very few fatalities and very high numbers of recoveries,” said the Jesuit scholars. 

The JCTR officials called on the country’s leadership to take the lead in enforcing COVID-19 preventive measures.