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Zambians Urged to Put Aside Differences in Fight against COVID-19

Members of the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB)

Members of the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) have, in a collective statement, urged the people of God in the Southern African nation to stand together in the fight against COVID-19 amid an increase in reported cases. 

“As we fight against COVID-19, we urge all Zambians, regardless of their social, cultural, religious and political affiliation, to put aside their differences and unite for a common goal,” the Bishops say in their Thursday, January 28 statement availed to ACI Africa. 

They underscore the need to observe COVID-19 health guidelines saying, “This is not a time to relax in wearing masks and observing the social distance.”

The Bishops would like that people “avoid conducting funerals without following the public health regulations, which includes the reduction in numbers attending.”

Since December, Zambia has seen an increase in new reported cases of COVID-19

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On December 30, former Health Minister, Chitalu Chilufya, confirmed the increase in new positive cases and fatalities as part of the second wave of the pandemic in the country.

There have been at least 51,624 reported cases of the coronavirus, 728 deaths and 44,133 recoveries in the Southern African nation.

Acknowledging the severity of the second wave of the coronavirus, the Church leaders say the deaths of Zambians, including Bishop Moses Hamungole of Monze Diocese, members of the Clergy and Religious men and women, is a reminder that  “COVID-19 is Real, Serious and Deadly.”

“The dire situation in which we are living requires an urgent and decisive pastoral response at both the personal and communal levels,” the Bishops say in the statement signed by all ZCCB members. 

Aware that the Clergy and Religious people in the country face “extremely high” levels of exposure in their pastoral work, the Bishops urge caution saying, “Act responsibly always and everywhere as our brother and our sister's keeper.”

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“We ask you to critically think about protecting yourselves and others,” they say, adding that all Pastoral Agents need to “be extra vigilant and judiciously follow and enforce the COVID-19 regulations in your communities, parishes, institutions and pastoral programmes.”

The ZCCB members encourage pastoral workers to not only go for early testing in view of knowing their status, but to also go for testing periodically. 

“When you test positive of COVID-19 and become symptomatic, we strongly urge you to seek medical attention in good time,” the Catholic Bishops in Zambia appeal.

They further urge members of the Clergy, Religious men and women and Catechists to continue providing the necessary pastoral care to the people of God while strictly adhering to the COVID-19 guidelines and employing online platforms where necessary. 

“We also commend continued prayer and counselling to those who are infected and affected,” they further say and call upon the local authorities to ensure that measures against the spread of COVID-19 are adhered to in public places.

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“We also make an earnest appeal to our leaders across the political divide to be mindful of the risks that go with political gatherings, and thus avoid exposing the people to the virus,” ZCCB members say in their January 28 collective statement.