Indian Catholic News

Filipino bishops tell priests to take anti-Zika steps

Senior clergy fear possible infections during Holy Week celebrations.

An usher carries a lamp during Mass at a church in the province of Cebu. Philippine bishops have urged parish priests to keep churches clean to prevent the spread of the Zika virus. (Photo by Mark Saludes)

Philippine Catholic bishops have urged priests to ensure that parishes around the country implement measures to prevent the spread of the Zika virus.

They "should make sure that churches are totally clean," said Father Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the public affairs office of the bishops' conference.

The priest issued the statement following an announcement made by Philippine authorities that an American woman who stayed in the Philippines in January tested positive for the virus.

Health Secretary Janette Garin said the American was the second confirmed case of the mosquito-borne virus in the Philippines.

A 15-year old boy in the province of Cebu was reported infected by Zika in 2012.

The Health Department said the American woman, who traveled mostly in the northern region of the country, developed symptoms of the virus upon returning to the United States.

Garin emphasized that there is "no outbreak of the Zika virus in the Philippines." She advised pregnant women to take extra precautions against being bitten by mosquitos.

The country's bishops urged Catholics to wear clothes that will cover their arms and legs when going to church as a preventive measure against mosquito bites.

With large numbers of people expected to attend Holy Week rites later this month, parishes are urged to making sure that surroundings are clean.

"The virus can hit anybody. But since it comes from a certain type of mosquito, possible breeding places of mosquitoes should be eliminated," said Secillano.

"Electric fans should be working. Pastors should also put in place repellants," the priest said.

The Zika virus is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the same type responsible for dengue fever, which is endemic in the Philippines.

The Health Department earlier advised Filipino women who are in no hurry to get pregnant to use family planning methods if they are worried about getting infected by the virus.

Source: UCAN

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