Shaking Hands Banned in Church Amid Coronavirus Concerns

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Amid concerns over the spread of the flu, Anglicans in Trinidad and Tobago seeking communion have been asked to suspend the habit of shaking hands during the Greeting of Peace, LoopTT reports.

According to Anglican Bishop Claude Berkley told Loop News that parishioners may opt for either the wine or the bread, however, instead of the bread being placed in the mouth, it would be placed in the hand.

The temporary measures were decided following global news of the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) in several countries, with cases appearing closed and closer to the Caribbean.

He said: “We have asked that handshaking and that kind of contact not be made during the sign of the peace. It’s been advised to discontinue this for the time being until we have more information, during the greeting of peace.”

“We have advocated that intiction (the administration of the Eucharist by dipping the bread into wine then offering to the communicant) be placed in the hand.

“Usually you’d have bread and wine…intiction is placing the bread in the wine and offering it.”

Those receiving communion can also receive the host by taking a sip of wine from the chalice. The cup would then be wiped with a cloth and offered to the next person. Alternatively, they can receive the bread in the hand.

Berkely said intiction placed in the mouth would be discontinued until further notice but it will still be offered in the hand.

He said people can still receive the chalice as well for now.

In South Korea, a church was named as one of the country’s biggest cluster of viral infections, with over 100 cases being linked to a branch of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in the southeast city of Daeguand.

The woman who was blamed for the spread of the disease had not travelled outside the country and believed she had a common cold and continued to attend church.

South Korea has a total of 204 cases of the virus which causes COVID-19 disease.

According to the US Center for Disease Control (CDC), the virus is spread between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Guidance from the CDC is as follows:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.