Catholics in Thailand urged to go online for Christmas as COVID-19 cases surge

Catholics in Thailand have been advised to celebrate Christmas Mass online as the country grapples with a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Cardinal Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovithavanij, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Thailand, issued a notice on Christmas eve asking Catholics to be careful following reports of an uptick in new coronavirus infections in the country.

“As we know the new coronavirus is spreading once more; reaching into multiple provinces,” said Cardinal Kriengsak.

On the same day the cardinal issued his notice, Thailand confirmed 67 new coronavirus infections, of which nine were imported from overseas, reported Reuters.

The wire service said that COVID-19 cases have been detected in 27 of the country’s provinces since last week. More than 1,300 infections have been linked to an outbreak at a seafood center not far from Bangkok where the majority of those infected were reported to be Myanmar migrant workers.

Since the beginning of the year there have been 60 deaths attributed to COVID-19 and some 5,829 cases in Thailand, the Bangkok Post reported.

The cardinal said he has requested all churches to strictly follow health measures stipulated by the government.

Catholics wearing face masks, as prevention against the new coronavirus, near a statue of an angel with a sign (unseen) saying “No holy water during COVID-19 precautionary period” and a bottle of hand sanitizer during Sunday Mass at the Holy Redeemer Roman Catholic Church in Bangkok on March 8. (Photo by Romeo Gacad/AFP)

“If possible, churches should avoid ceremonies and eucharistic celebrations that will attract big crowds by arranging for those events to be live-streamed online as done previously until the situation improves,” said Cardinal Kriengsak who is the archbishop of Bangkok.

The cardinal requested that Catholics join ceremonies online and follow church news via websites of the Catholic Social Communication of Thailand and other media organizations of the Archdiocese of Bangkok.

He also asked Thailand’s Catholic community to cooperate for the benefit of society and to pray together.

“On the occasion of the birth of Christ, I pray that the love and mercy of Jesus Christ comes into your heart, in your family and in your community always and I pray that His love and mercy will protect everyone from all illness both in body and in mind,” Cardinal Kriengsak added in his notice.

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