“Thankfully, until now, the coronavirus that has been verified in Nigeria the cases have always been imported cases. As we speak now, the coronavirus so far has been contained and limited to those people who have imported it to Nigeria,” Bishop Emmanuel Badejo of Nigeria’s Oyo diocese told ACI Africa Thursday, March 5.
“We know that there are challenges being an African country, but in spite of that, the Center for Disease Control in Nigeria, which is now at the helm of taking care and preventing this new coronavirus has been doing a good job,” Bishop Badejo who heads the Pan-African Episcopal Committee for Social Communication (CEPACS), added.
Other Church leaders on the continent have expressed concerns that the virus might rapidly spread in Africa if precautionary measures are not taken by governments.
“It's a real epidemic coming down on us, starting in China. We’re really helpless,” the President of SECAM, Philippe Cardinal Ouedraogo told ACI Africa Thursday, March 5.
The Archbishop of Burkina Faso’s Ouagadougou Archdiocese added, “In Burkina Faso, vigilance is certainly recommended, especially the country's health structures that have the responsibility to be vigilant in trying to protect the population. This being the case, in Burkina Faso there is no particular action in addition to hygiene precautions.”
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“Some countries are more affected than others. Precautions are not the same everywhere. But everything human is of interest to the Church,” Cardinal Ouedraogo said and added, “The Church shouldn't lose interest in the fate of men. People who are dying because of this virus and this epidemic. So, we are listening and we are trying to see what we can do. First of all, the lead role is with the state.”
On his part, the Chairman of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB), Archbishop Philip Anyolo advocated for a combination of preventive measures and faith.
“From the Christian point of view, we have an obligation to inform our people that God heals. But at the same time, He heals us through our understanding that we can protect ourselves from such illnesses,” Archbishop Anyolo of Kenya’s Archdiocese of Kisumu told ACI Africa Thursday, March 5.
In his considered view, people need to “see how we can help even those of us who have been affected with it, not victimize them. It is something airborne and anybody can get it.”
“Let us be mindful of one another. In case I know I have it, I should be mindful that I don't spread it to another person,” he advised.
Meanwhile, according to Fr. Jean Germain Rajoelison, the second Deputy Secretary General of SECAM, “the lessons of West Africa’s Ebola crisis will save Africa from the spread of the coronavirus.”
“In dealing with a potential COVID-19 outbreak on the continent, the African countries most recently affected by a previous viral pandemic will be leaning heavily on the past to address the present,” Fr. Rajoelison, a native of Madagascar told ACI Africa.
He added, “Our role as the Church is to sensitize our Christians about this disease highlighting the importance of adopting hygiene habits to prevent the spread of the virus.”
“Our governments too should really play their role taking precautionary measures at borders and airports. The situation is really serious and as a Church we prescribe vigilance at all times,” the Malagasy cleric concluded during the Thursday, March 5 interview.