Coronavirus – news from the Diocese

Coronavirus The World Health Organisation has declared that this is a public health emergency of international concern. This enables resources to be targeted at countries which have a weak public health infrastructure. The risk to the public in the UK is currently set at moderate. This permits the government to plan for all eventualities. The number of cases in the UK is very small and good preparation is in place. Most people recover from the illness after experiencing heavy cold/flu like symptoms for 6 – 8 days, but as this is a virus and not flu no vaccine is available. It is now being understood that death rates are much lower than was first thought – initially only the serious cases were reported, and not the ones that just seemed like flu. Deaths are most likely to occur where there is a pre-existing condition. Any change to public health advice will be communicated to you and published on the website. In the meantime, please observe the following advice: Holy Communion While it is our faith that the sacraments are means of grace and not of sickness, they are physically ministered, and we should take physical care. As well as the specific concern about Coronavirus, this advice is generally applicable for all infectious disease.

1. Washing of Hands. Priests presiding at the Eucharist, communion administrators and servers are reminded to wash hands. We strongly advise the use of hand sanitisers immediately before the Preparation of the Table and Eucharistic prayer.

2. Do not intinct. Because hands can be as much a source of pathogens as lips, intinction is no safer than drinking and can introduce germs into the cup. Intinction (dipping the bread into the wine) can also threaten those with certain immune or allergic conditions. For instance, those with gluten intolerance for whom traces of gluten can be hazardous are at greater risk when other communicants have dipped their communion wafer into the wine. Chalice assistants will be advised to follow this guidance particularly thoroughly.

3. Consider receiving Holy Communion in one Kind. It is Anglican teaching that to receive the sacrament in one kind only (ie. just the bread) is to receive the sacrament in its entirety. The celebrant should always receive from the Chalice. Should a communicant feel ill or not wish to drink from the chalice then he or she ought to receive the consecrated bread alone. There is no need at this stage for us to cease offering the chalice to the congregation.

4. The Peace. At this time there is no need to refrain from sharing the Peace. No one will take offence if you use a hand sanitiser after the peace and before coming up to receive communion.

5. Visiting. Pastoral visitors to homes and hospitals will observe all precautions in personal hygiene before and after such visits.