By Robert Tapfumaneyi
THE Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) has urged Christian denominations and other religious groups to avail alcohol-based hand sanitisers for use among worshippers amid the ever-present possibility of a coronavirus outbreak in the country.
The call comes after President Emmerson Mnangagwa Tuesday issued a blanket ban on gatherings of more than 100 people including congregations, weddings for the next 30 days.
“In light of this fact, the following hygiene conventions are being recommended in order to prevent any possible spread of COVID-19,” ZCC secretary general Rev Kenneth Mtata said in a statement.
“We encourage the faithful across all religious communities to avoid handshakes or any physical contact.
“We exhort that all religious and liturgical processes that entail physical contact be halted.
“ZCC has put on halt all work-related travels on the continent and internationally.”
The church group also discouraged private travel among its staff and congregants.
The group also approved alcohol-based hand sanitisers.
“ZCC planned mass gatherings have all been suspended in the interest of public health until further notice; where possible, visual meetings will replace physical meetings, the most oft repeated instruction in the Bible is ‘do not be afraid’.”
Mtata added, “We are also mindful that information is power, and therefore urge all religious leaders to be sources of credible and factual information in order to empower their flock.
“As there are possibilities that some in our midst may be infected by this virus in the coming days or weeks, the compassion of Christ should abound as we give pastoral support to our brothers and sisters in line with recommended hygiene practices.”
He added, “We call the nation to prayer for God’s protection as this pandemic not only calls for clean hands, but also open, compassionate hearts as with take up our Christian commitment to care for one another in these challenging times.”
ZCC works in, and with thousands of faith communities across the country, and has ecumenical partners in Africa, and across the world.