Public Masses across Thailand will be put on hold except in smaller churches serving isolated areas deemed not at risk of the coronavirus pandemic.
All public Masses in Bangkok are being halted by the Catholic Bishops Conference of Thailand from March 21 till April 4, a source told LiCAS.news on March 20. The report comes after more than 270 people in the country have reportedly been infected with the virus.
Cathedrals and large churches across Thailand’s 76 provinces will also not celebrate public Mass during this same period.
“Mass will be normal from Palm Sunday, April 5, and during Holy Week,” the source said. “However, it is [feared] that, as the virus outbreak continues to evolve, the cancellation of Mass may have to be extended,” the source added.
The source said that it will be up to bishops of dioceses outside of the Thai capital to gauge if smaller churches — i.e. those is isolated areas — need to halt public Mass celebrations.
Since the bishops’ decision, local parishes affected by the announcement have been informing their members of the situation. To assist Catholics with their faith, many parishes will livestream Mass via social media where possible.
“For communion please join the prayer for ‘Spiritual Communion’ as provided along with the priest,” advised a Facebook post from the Holy Redeemer Church in Bangkok.
According to the social media accounts of some Bangkok parishes, the halting of Mass in their churches was put in place on March 20.
Thailand recorded a large jump in the number of coronavirus infections this week which has led the local authorities to close down schools, universities, and entertainment venues around the country, Reuters reported.
The kingdom has recorded one death since the outbreak of the virus, which began in the Chinese city of Wuhan. The wire service reported that 42 people who contracted the virus have recovered and gone home, while 229 are still being treated in hospital.
There are some 380,000 Catholics in Thailand, a figure that represents 0.46 percent of the country’s total population of 69 million. There are 11 dioceses with 436 parishes and 662 priests in the country.