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The Situation of COVID – 19 in the Areas of SCJM Presence

In the light of WHO declaring COVID – 19 as a pandemic disease, a question that comes to the mind of each one of you, I presume, would be “How are our Sisters in these critical times?” My immediate answer is: so far so good! There is no report of a SCJM casualty from anywhere in the Congregation.

However, as reports of more and more confirmed cases and mortality reach us from across the globe, we have reason to be concerned about, not only for ourselves but also for our sisters and brothers everywhere. Including Italy and France, where we have student Sisters, we are spread out over seventeen countries and the situation appears grave in some of these countries.

Italy, where we have two students (Sr. Nathalie Mayang Ntambw of St. Bernard, Congo and Sr. Lilly Pallipurath of the province of Ranchi, India), is declared a “red zone” – meaning people should stay home except for work and other emergencies. Both our Sisters report that they are well inside their homes and their studies continue on-line.

Sr. Beatrice Tshilemba of the province of St. Vincent, Congo is in France where all gatherings are banned and schools are closed among several other measures taken to avoid spreading the disease. However, she reports that her classes continue on schedule.

The elderly being the most vulnerable, in England and Ireland, besides other restrictions, everyone is advised against visiting the Homes of the elderly sisters. In both the countries, many restrictions are in place.

Here in Belgium, the National Security Council has declared a state of emergency over the entire country. Consequently, all recreational and sporting events are cancelled or postponed. Public places like restaurants, bars, and cafés are shut; schools remain closed… The Conference of Bishops has decided to suspend all liturgical celebrations, gatherings and meetings.

Consequently, practically all of us are ‘quarantined’. Both for the Generalate and Belgium provinces, celebrations, meetings and similar other gatherings are cancelled or postponed; those scheduled for the coming weeks/months are to be reconsidered. Over-seas mission trips of the General Government are to be rescheduled…

All the Asian countries of SCJM presence report cases of infection. Vietnam is stepping up measures to stop the virus from entering the country and spreading within the country. Our Sisters are quarantined within their respective communities, as reported earlier. Scheduled events in the Region may have to be postponed.

As of now, the situation seems mild in the Philippines, though the number of infected cases is rising. People are advised to stay home. Our IAN community, just out of the volcano-crisis - will they have to brace up for another crisis?

India reports a rising number of infected / suspected cases. The Union Government has declared COVID – 19 as a ‘notified disaster’. Our Sisters are on the alert and adopting precautionary measures to ward off the disaster.

Pakistan has confirmed cases of the pandemic and, according to WHO, is faced with a great challenge of containing it. Borders are sealed and public events are cancelled. Obviously, a serious concern for our Sisters.

As new COVID-19 positive cases are being reported in Sri Lanka, the province remains alert to meet up the eventuality. The government has imposed a ban on public gatherings and issued restrictions on travelling; educational institutions are closed.

Congo, which has already been facing an Ebola epidemic for more than a year, is preparing to face the pandemic of COVID - 19. The risk is great and the government has already initiated certain measures to arrest its entry and spread. Our Sisters in both the provinces are genuinely concerned.

The number of infected cases is given out to be on the rise in South Africa, a situation inviting our Sisters to be cautious.

According to the available information, while Rwanda reports one confirmed case today, Burundi, Mali & Central Africa have no reported cases. May our Sisters enjoy this relative sense of relief and security!

In summary, as of today, 15.03.2020, we have the following picture!

Country Total Cases Total Deaths
World Wide
151363
5758
Belgium
689
4
Netherlands
959
12
Ireland
129
2
United Kingdom
1140
21
India
90
2
Pakistan
30
0
Philippines
111
6
Sri Lanka
11
0
Vietnam
53
0
South Africa
24
0
Congo
2
0
Rwanda
1
0
Burundi
0
0
Mali
0
0
Central Africa
0
0
Italy
17,750
1441
France
4499
91

ECDC report update / 15.03.2020
(European Center for Disease prevention and Control)

No doubt, it is a situation that calls for a concerted effort to bring this pandemic under control. In the words of the Director General of WHO: “This is not just a public health crisis; it is a crisis that will touch every sector – so every sector and every individual must be involved in the fight … we’re in this together (and together) this virus can be suppressed and controlled,” he asserts.

Let us, during this time of lent, do everything in our power for the amelioration of this pandemic disease. In particular let us pray, personally and in community; let us pray for the sick, for the care-takers of the sick and for all those involved in controlling the situation and finding a remedy. May the Spirit of wisdom enlighten and guide all those who are to take decisions in response to this outbreak!

Sr. Lucy Jacob Palliam Pallithura
Brussels
15.03.2020


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