AFRICA/DR CONGO - After Ebola, covid-19: Holy Week between uncertainty and fear, says Cardinal Ambongo

Monday, 6 April 2020 coronavirus   easter   prayer   healthcare  

Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides) - "We are terrified of the possible spread of covid-19 here in Congo; we have no means or logistical solutions to deal with it and it would be a disaster": says Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu, Archbishop of Kinshasa to Agenzia Fides, expressing his concern. First the Ebola nightmare, which has tormented the country since the summer of 2018, making thousands of victims, and now we have to deal with the first infections due to the coronavirus. "There is great fear because the number of infected people rises day by day. My diocese is the most affected, most of the cases are concentrated in the capital where 12 million people live, but we fear that it will spread to other areas of the Country as well. We are observing what is happening in Italy, Spain, America and we dare not imagine what it would be like here if even a small part of what happened there happened to us". Cardinal Ambongo reports to Fides the conditions of poverty and lack of preparation which the Country is facing. "The government has asked to limit circulation, to wash your hands, to stay as much as possible at home, but here, the slogan stay home in many cases would make no sense, because houses are precarious, up to about 10/15 people live in a small room and the vast majority of our population lives on the street all day. Furthermore, not all households have running water and in order to wash their hands it is necessary to travel distances. In the city you see fewer people around, but we are far from the measures that are needed. As a Church, we are talking to the President of the Republic to find solutions, because we fear that the indication of staying at home will not work in most situations. There is also a risk of looting in the case of mass epidemics and hospitalizations, especially by the military and policemen".
The Christians of the Democratic Republic of Congo, over 50% of the population (90% Catholics), are preparing to live Easter in a situation of great uncertainty and fear. "Churches are open, but the influx of the faithful is prohibited. You can enter to pray, but one at a time or with very small groups, no more than 20. In Kinshasa we can make use of a Catholic TV and radio and we will broadcast all the functions. The problem will be in all those dioceses where there are no such means". (LA) (Agenzia Fides, 6/4/2020)