, 10 March, 2020 / 1:45 AM
The worrying trend of the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, with some nine African countries affected is a matter of concern for those at the helm of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) who have, in a collective statement, expressed concern and formulated a prayer in the face of “this strange epidemic.”
“We, members of the SECAM Standing Committee, meeting in Nairobi, Kenya from March 4. -7, 2020 have noted with concern the growing number of cases of Coronavirus infection in Africa and the rest of the world,” reads in part SECAM statement availed to ACI Africa Monday, March, 9.
“We express our sympathy for and solidarity with those who are infected and affected by this strange epidemic and pray that an effective and affordable treatment of this disease may soon be found,” the collective statement of the members of SECAM’s Standing Committee further reads.
“We encourage all the faithful to meticulously follow the instructions given by the Civil and Ecclesiastical authorities regarding the virus,” the statement signed by SECAM President, Philippe Cardinal Ouedraogo goes on.
The continental Church leaders ask for prayers “for those infected and affected by this disease and for a quick end to the scourge of the Coronavirus.”
More than 3,800 people have died globally from COVID-19 while more than 110,000 infections have been confirmed in dozens of countries, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Nine African countries of Algeria, South Africa, Senegal, Tunisia, Togo, Egypt, Cameroon, Nigeria and Morocco have all combined reported more than 90 coronavirus cases, WHO said Monday, March 9.
With 55 cases, more than half of all confirmed cases in Africa, Egypt remains worst-hit by the virus on the continent.
Faced with new cases of the disease reported around the world, SECAM officials urge the people of God on the continent “to adopt the highest level of preventive measures to curb the spread of this disease.”
WHO has warned that the threat of a global coronavirus pandemic was "very real" as the contagion continued its rapid spread around the world.
“Now that the virus has a foothold in so many countries, the threat of a pandemic has become very real,” WHO director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference, Monday, March 9.
According to Tedros, “the virus is closer to causing a pandemic but outbreaks in countries can still be controlled through a combination of containment and mitigation measures.”
In Italy - where some 16 million people are now under quarantine - there have been at least 9,000 cases of the virus and the death toll leaping to 463 after 97 people were reported dead in a single day, the Mail Online has indicated.
However, Tedros has expressed optimism saying, "We are encouraged that Italy is taking aggressive measures to contain its epidemic and we hope that those measures prove effective in the coming days."
The coronavirus is closer to causing a pandemic but outbreaks in countries can still be controlled through a combination of containment and mitigation measures, WHO has reported.
Here is the prayer that SECAM leadership has proposed:
Almighty and merciful Father, who show your love to all your creation; We come before you asking for a quick control of the Corona Virus currently ravaging our world; Hear graciously the prayers we make for those affected by the virus in various parts of the world; Grant healing to the sick, eternal life to the dead and consolation to the bereaved families; We pray that an effective medicine to combat the sickness be speedily found; We pray for the relevant Governments and Health Authorities that they take appropriate steps for the good of the people; Look upon us in your mercy and forgive us our failings. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
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