Sr. Jecinter Antoinette Okoth, FSSA
Following a steady rise of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Zambia and establishing a second wave of the pandemic, Catholic bishops have appealed to various actors for teamwork to help contain the spread of Covid-19 infections in the country.
In their collective statement dated Thursday, January 28, members of the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) observed that the pandemic has spread in all parts of the country and it is through collaboration that the country can win the battle.
“As we fight against Covid-19, we urge all Zambians, regardless of their social, cultural, religious and political affiliation, to put aside their differences and unite for a common goal,” the bishops appealed.
Addressing the clergy and Religious in the Thursday statement, the bishops appreciated the pastoral work being offered to people including spiritual care, attending to the sick and providing consolation to the needy but warned that through these works, the levels of exposure to the contagion virus “are extremely high.”
In this regard, the clergy and Religious have been asked to “act responsibly always and everywhere” as each other’s keeper. Additionally, they said, “The lay faithful need to protect their priests and other pastoral agents by strictly observing the preventive measures” which are flouted at times.
The bishops further encourage pastoral workers to have early test and know their status saying, “We urge you to go for test periodically. When you test positive of Covid-19 and become symptomatic, we strongly urge you to seek medical attention in good time.”
They also called on the clergy, Religious and the Catechists to continue praying and counselling those who are “infected and affected,” as they adhere strictly to Covid-19 protocols.
To the local authorities, the Prelates advised that they ensure measures against the spread of the virus are followed “in public places, especially in markets, bus stations and in public transport.”
“This is not a time to relax in wearing masks and observing social distance,” the Bishops said adding, “We exhort our people to avoid conducting funerals without following the public health regulations which includes reduction in number of attendants.”
“We also make an earnest appeal to our leaders across the political divide to be mindful of the risks that go with political gatherings and thus avoid exposing the people to the virus,” the bishops stressed.
They added, “Avoid being a channel of spreading unverified information and creating anxiety and fear in the community. Instead, we exhort you to continue preaching the message of hope.”
In conclusion, the bishops convey heartfelt and sincere condolences to families, Religious congregations, the clergy who have lost their dear ones due to Covid-19, and the diocese of Monze who lost Bishop Moses Hamungole in the recent past.