Bor (Agenzia Fides) - The ongoing public gatherings, including Sunday services, required the intervention of the police in Bor, the capital of Jonglei state in eastern South Sudan. Due to non-compliance with preventive measures to contain the Covid 19 pandemic at events, authorities have also warned the churches of severe sanctions against those who commit such a violation.
At the end of last month, following a new wave of coronavirus infections, the National Task Force to Fight COVID-19 issued an order banning all forms of social gatherings until March 3. In a statement to a local broadcaster, state police spokesman John Mawut Ngangha said he had already taken preventive measures last week to prevent the spread of coronavirus infections in places of worship.
Mawut emphasized that in addition to enforcing the government ban, the task force is also committed to ensuring health protocols on COVID-19 and appropriate education.
"As police force, we are committed to strengthening the governmental order that prohibits all forms of social gathering. On Sunday I myself attended the service in Nigel Church, where people observed social distancing and were gathered in prayer under the trees", said Mawut.
Bishop James Deng of Makuac, South Sudan, meanwhile, said Sunday services will continue despite the ban, stressing that God is the only hope for South Sudanese. "I see no reason why churches should be closed when meeting places like markets are always overcrowded", said Bishop Deng. "We are not against the government. The pandemic exists, but there is no need to ban access to churches. Not only do we preach the gospel, we educate people on how to wash their hands and keep distance rules".
Last month, Bor State Hospital also spearheaded training on health measures to contain the virus via local radio stations. Since the beginning of this week, 148 new cases have been registered in the country, bringing the total number of registered infections to 5,710. (AP) (Agenzia Fides, 17/2/2021)