We, sitting in India, might be feeling that the threat of coronavirus is somewhere out there, far out in the east. But the counties in the far east are indeed taking it all very seriously, even in places of worship.
A Protestant church in Seoul has shut its doors and switched entirely to online worship services after one of its followers tested positive for the virus on Jan. 30.
In Philippines, a very popular Catholic church, where getting space for a mass on Sunday is akin to rush hour traffic on Mumbai streets, for the past couple of weeks, nearly half of the pews are goiung empty every Sunday.
In Hong Kong, last week, Cardinal John Hon Tong, wearing a mask, announced the suspension of public Masses for two weeks and urged churchgoers to instead watch them online.
Buddhist temples, Christian churches and Muslim mosques have been ordered closed since Jan. 29 in mainland China. In Japan, where Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines are tourist destinations, a sharp decline in the number of foreign visitors has been a palpable setback.
Other Protestant churches in South Korea have sprayed their halls and rooms with disinfectant, canceled children’s Bible school programs and asked followers to minimize socializing. Hundreds of Catholic churches in the country have halted the use of holy water stoups, allowed churchgoers to wear masks during Masses and discouraged those with flu-like symptoms or those who came from countries with confirmed cases of infection from attending.
Many devout ones continue to visit places of worship, undeterred as they feel faith will take care of everything and provide the immunity against anything.