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An update on the situation of COVID-19 in the areas of SCJM Presence (01/08/2020)

Dear Sisters,

We are now past the shock and disbelief of the outbreak of the pandemic C-19. We have been trying to face it in faith, hope and courage. We have been listening to the God who is powerfully communicating with us through this deeply disturbing intervention in our lives. We continue praying for deliverance from this virus so as to go ahead with our life in full swing.

“NOT YET!” seems to be the indication as you will discover from the accounts below. The impact of a second wave of the virus is felt in several parts of the world, including the SCJM world.

What is more! An opinion that seems gaining strength among the analysts and commentators is that the coronavirus is here to stay and that we better be prepared to live with it in an agreeable manner! If this is the case, we need to further sharpen our listening faculties to hear the “still, small” voice of the Lord from within this situation and be prepared to take new and untrodden paths.

Through the prophet Jeremiah, the Lord tells us, “I know the plans I have for you … plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  We hold on firmly to this promise of the Lord as we move ahead!

Sr. Lucy Jacob

Brussels

Belgium

The country was beginning to limp back to some kind of a normal life when in mid-July reports of new cases began to appear. As this began to increase, it was clear that the second wave has begun to sweep over the country. The average daily infections stands at 371, an increase of 62% per week. Right now, Antwerp is the epicentre of the virus, and Brussels is given out to be the next. As a result, the government has tightened precautionary measures for at least the next four weeks, with new limits on contacts and events: social contacts are limited to five people; organised events are limited to 100 people; masks are compulsory at all events; shopping must be done alone again and the maximum shopping time of 30 minutes has also been reintroduced. 

Rwanda

Rwanda too shares with the rest of the world the effects of Corona, though compared to other countries it is not too bad. According to the recent account, there are 898 active cases of corona hospitalized at present; 918 have already been recovered, and in all 5 deaths have been reported.

In some of the parishes there is daily Mass, but only for the religious. The Sunday Mass is for all with all the required regulations. Severe punishments are given to people who do not obey the rules. So there is obedience at least out of fear. The traffic is allowed on the road till 9pm and all shops remain open till the evening. Schools still remain closed. All other works continue as usual. Complete lock down and quarantine continue in areas where there are more fresh cases. The frontiers to our neighbouring countries still remains closed.

But in Burundi, where we have one community, people seem to live in another world. Life is very normal as if nothing has happened: no masks, no social distancing, and no restrictions. People do die, but no one talks about Corona.

Pakistan

As the pandemic has hit only the major cities, most of the people have not taken it seriously. Despite the Lockdowns in different areas of the country, the people go about without masks. In some places, the fine is imposed and there the mask goes up as soon as one sees a policeman. The life seems to be normal except for the educational institutions. They remain closed and every other day a new date is announced for the reopening. All the banks, government institutes and shopping malls and shops do not let people in without the mask and hands sanitized.

The closing of the Educational Institutions has protected our children from the pandemic. Schools in the cities are having classes on line. Besides, the Government has started TV classes for different levels. The private schools, including ours, are having many financial difficulties as the government does not allow any employee to be sent off or to hold back the salaries.

The churches are still closed though some allow a limited number of the faithful for the Sunday Mass. We the SCJMs are lucky to have the Eucharistic Celebration quite frequently. We pray that God may deliver the whole world from this deadly plague and let us enjoy the normal way of living once again.

Vietnam

The people of Vietnam got back to normalcy from April 30th. Churches, schools, shops, and services are following their usual schedules. People began to feel secure again after a period of time living in fear and worries. Talks, news, discussions about Covid-19 seemed to be lesser and lesser in the country.

The summer holidays are here and when all were in the mood of vacation and relaxation, suddenly on July 25th, Vietnam’s first community transmission case was reported in Da Nang after 99 days without a new case reported. The patient who was tested positive did not have any travel history. It is still unclear how he contracted the virus. The latest eleven cases include seven patients and four medical staff linked to Da Nang Hospital. At the moment, the city of Da Nang is applying the strictest social distancing measures of lockdown. 

In other parts of the country, especially in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city, people are again cautious about the seriousness of the transmission of Covid-19. Masks are required in all public places. Local police are visiting houses and hostels to make sure that all measures are taken to prevent infection, including our communities. Social gatherings are once again banned.

Churches, religious communities and the faithful are in constant prayer for the healing of the world from coronavirus.

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has been efficacious so far in responding to early warnings of Covid-19. At present the country is in the process of closely monitoring the situation and strengthening preparedness to respond effectively to combat any incoming situation.

More than six months into this pandemic, Sri Lanka has made an enormous progress in controlling the spread of COVID-19. For the past four months, the Government, together with medical officials and the Tri-forces, have taken various measures to ensure that the spread of COVID-19 is minimized within the island. The support given by the public by obeying the rules and regulations and maintaining the good order and discipline has been of great help.

It can be assumed that Sri Lanka is very close to victory over this pandemic. Schools are being re-opened in a phased-out manner after a closure of 115 days. The parliamentary elections will be held in August with strict health measures and guidelines.

Today, the total confirmed cases stands at 2,810 with 503 active cases. 2,296 cases recovery and 11 deaths are notified.

The changing lifestyles of the post-pandemic “new normalcy” may prove to be a challenge for many, especially where transportation, employment and day to day needs are concerned.

India

The Corona Virus pandemic still continues to rage its fury in the Indian sub-continent. There is a decline in new cases in certain states; however it surges on in other states. The southern states of India that fared well in controlling it in the beginning are now faced with local and community transmission. Delhi which stood almost at the top of the ladder is now seeing a decline in new cases. As of now, India has a total 1.5 million cases (1.583.156) with a death toll of 34.224. A good number of them are being cured as well. In spite of the lock down of selected areas and travel restrictions within the country, life goes on and all are trying to learn to live with it with necessary precautions. As far as education is concerned, online classes are going on in full swing. A few other activities are also resumed.

In all this, the poor are the ones who suffer the most with no work and having no means for sustaining their families. Many are stricken with fear, anxiety and worry, not only of the virus but about their future.

Ranchi city, the capital of Jharkhand, is one of the hotspots for positive cases. However, many private hospitals in the state have been closed down due to lack of facilities to treat covid 19 patients and some have been sealed off for treating the infected ones without taking adequate precaution. The Mercy Hospital in Jamshedpur was kept open for general patients and it was a respite for the people of Jamshedpur. Although we had prepared isolation rooms for covid cases in case of emergency, we were not totally prepared to treat infected ones. By mid-July, when hospital staff members started getting infected and patients tested positive, they had to be isolated and those who came in contact with them quarantined. This meant less number of staff members and closure of the concerned departments. Before long the hospital had to be closed down too - on 22nd July. 

The entire hospital was cleaned and sanitised during this period of total closure. It was fumigated as per the government rule and is now ready to admit new patients. Sisters are confident that everything will go well when the hospital reopens although there is also fear and anxiety and a sense of uncertainty as the Covid 19 situation in the state is moving from bad to worse.

In a situation where we cannot do much, the SCJMs hold on to the Lord in hope. We continue to storm the heavens that the Lord may have compassion on our world. What gives us the impetus and confidence is the trust we have in God that without His knowledge nothing happens and He will take care of those who care for others.

Philippines

We are very much grateful to God Almighty who continuously take care of us and for His providential care, love and protection.

There are some 89,374 confirmed cases in the country today. Around 65,064 have been recovered; and the death toll is 1,983. Both the national and local governments responded to the pandemic with various declarations of emergency, closure of schools and public meetings, lockdowns, and other estrictions intended to slow down the progress of the virus. The challenges of each day keep reminding and creating an awareness in us to the reality of life around us, especially as we see how the poor are becoming poorer each day. The reopening of schools is postponed as new cases are being reported. Children have online classes though few are able to benefit from this. The sick are advised to remain in their own homes and be looked after.

During these difficult times, we are invited to face these challenges as an invitation for our own conversion and to renew our faith in God.

Congo

On 18 March, at midnight, the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo announced a state of health emergency because of the cases of Covid-19 detected in Kinshasa on 10 March 2020. He urged all his people to observe some measures to prevent the Pandemic.

The state of emergency was lifted on 21 July. On that date, the President announced the resumption of classes, starting with the final year of primary, secondary, high schools and university, from 03/08/2020, and from 15/08, the reopening of churches and places of worship, migration and interprovincial movements, the reopening of ports, airports, and all borders, and the reopening of discotheques, stadiums and theatres. For funerals, the provisions remain the same and are strictly enforced.

In addition, he stressed that thanks to the efforts of the response team, the mortality rate has fallen from 11% to 2.4%. The mortality trend is declining during this month of July. The DRC ranks 9th in Africa in terms of cases detected and 12th in terms of deaths.

The return to normal life is authorized, in compliance with the barrier measures and following the modalities set by the response team: temperature control at each entry, hand washing, mandatory wearing of masks in public places, regular disinfection of places of activity...

On 29/07/2020, the official media communicated the following statistics: 9,010 infected cases, 437 recovered cases and 215 deaths.

Mali

To date, Mali has reported 2520 infected, 75 deaths, and 1919 recovered cases. The state continues to trace possible infected cases in the country and directs its people towards remaining calm and respecting all precautionary measures. However, not everyone pay sufficient attention to this.

The schools are reopened. The public transport system was never affected. The airport is scheduled to open soon.

We continue interceding for our suffering world.

England

The current pandemic continues, and seems unstoppable here in the United Kingdom as elsewhere in the world. People, especially the most vulnerable, are genuinely and understandably frightened, since as yet there is no ‘miracle drug’ or vaccine available to combat this virus. The ongoing research in the various institutions, including Oxford to mention but one, gives some glimmer of hope on the horizon.

However, the anxiety about the potential spread of the disease is heightened, when on Thursday July 30th. the fact that the number of Corona cases in the Country was 28% more than on the first of the month. Our mortality is certainly thrown into sharper focus during this extremely uncertain period of time.

Following on from that, this morning’s news quoted our Prime Minister, Mr. Boris Johnson as saying, he was “squeezing the brake pedal” on easing lockdown after infections doubled in a month. His statement really sums up succinctly the whole situation. This was the day many businesses were due to reopen; instead it seems that the country has probably reached near the limits of what can be done to return to life as normal for now. One wonders if life will ever again be what we understand as normal, or will we rather be talking about Covid-19 normal.

Ireland

According to the latest statistics, Ireland has 26,027 confirmed cases of C-19 and 1763 Covid related deaths. The latest figures show that the pandemic has re-emerged in the country. Over a two-day period the country moved from a relatively stable epidemiology to a significant pattern connected to outbreaks. All are advised to be really careful and adhere to public health advice so to avoid further spread of the virus. Vigilance and precautionary measures are to be observed. 


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