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Bishops and aid agencies praise coronavirus response

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Washington D.C., Feb 18, 2020 / 02:41 pm (CNA).- American bishops and leaders of Catholic aid agencies have praised Vatican and U.S. responses to the coronavirus outbreak, and encouraged the faithful to stay informed about the disease.

“As communities and public health officials respond to the outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in China and closely monitor its presence and progression in other parts of the world, we join in solidarity and prayer for those impacted or working to treat those infected by the disease,” said a statement from Bishop David Malloy of Rockford (IL), Sean Callahan, president of Catholic Relief Services, and Sr. Mary Haddad, RSM, president of the Catholic Health Association of the United States.

Malloy is the chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on International Justice and Peace.

The three organizations “hope that governments will work together in partnership to improve all nations’ capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to this virus.”

“The Catholic Church in the United States stands in solidarity with those affected by the coronavirus and their families, health workers who are valiantly trying to diagnose and treat patients, and those under quarantine awaiting results of their screening for the virus,” said the statement.

They offered both prayers for continued healing, as well as for support for various organizations that are working to contain the outbreak and treat those who are sickened.

The statement highlighted efforts by both the United States and Vatican.

Earlier this month, the Vatican sent 700,000 respiratory masks to China, and “Catholic healthcare providers are at the front line of providing treatment and care to those impacted by the virus.”

The U.S. has transported more than 17 tons of medical supplies to China, something the bishops conference said “demonstrates the critical importance of the need to work together and to invest in crucial health care systems here and in other countries, thus preventing and responding to community-wide emergencies.”

“We urge the U.S. Congress to support these efforts by protecting access to domestic health care safety net programs and by providing additional emergency international assistance to areas impacted by the virus,” said the letter.

The faithful are encouraged to follow the Centers for Disease Control for up-to-date information about the coronavirus.

China has so far reported approximately 2,000 deaths from coronavirus, although experts have speculated that the number could be far higher.

The coronavirus has sparked a massive public health response in China and neighboring nations, including widespread quarantines. Catholic Masses have been canceled in Hong Kong and Singapore in an effort to prevent the faithful from contracting the disease.

Retired Bishop Joseph Zhu Baoyu of Nanyang, who is 98 years old, recently became the oldest person in China to fully recover from the coronavirus. Zhu was diagnosed with COVID-19 pneumonia on February 3, and was declared free of infection on February 14.

Zhu’s remarkable survival has resulted in mainstream media profiles in China.

People wearing surgical mask sitting in subway in Shanghai, China. Credit: Robert Wei/Shutterstock
People wearing surgical mask sitting in subway in Shanghai, China. Credit: Robert Wei/Shutterstock
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