MIDDLE EAST: Oriental and Eastern Orthodox Churches in further lockdown – until further notice

Middle East churches – With the further spread of the coronavirus, the churches in Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq and Jerusalem have taken a number of new measures in line with latest developments to reduce the spread of coronavirus among their faithful. The Christian churches in Syria and Lebanon issued a statement announcing a number of new instructions to prevent Corona epidemic:

  • Full compliance with the respective official health measures of the country in case.
  • Suspension of all public services and prayers, from this date to further notice.
  • Funerals are held exclusively in the burial churches in the presence of the parish priest and close family, without accepting the condolences.
  • Stop all meetings and social activities like trips, games, celebrations, exhibitions, competitions.
  • Stay away from all kinds of gatherings and commit to staying at home.

In Jerusalem the priests in the Church of Holy Sepulcher urged worshippers to maintain distance of at least two meters between each individual and avoid physical contact such as touching, kissing stones and touching church members and their clothes. And to not make groups of more than 10 individuals. Other holy sites like the church of the Annunciation in Nazareth and Bethlehem ordered precautionary measures.

In Egypt, the Coptic Orthodox Church decided to close all its churches and suspend the prayers for two weeks. Visits to the monasteries are banned, community center and halls attached to churches are closed, and only one church is reserved for funerals by each diocese. The Catholic church in Egypt followed the same approach and asked the believers to pray at home until further notice.

In the Kurdish Region in Iraq, the Ministry of Health announced the registration of 7 new coronavirus infections. The minister also warned that the region is in a dangerous stage and indicated that 4 of the infected people had previously visited Iran and some European countries. The Minister stated: “We have reached a dangerous stage where coronavirus spreads everywhere, in neighborhoods and alleys, not only among the returning travelers.”

In the Kurdish Region of Iraq, Syriacs (Chaldeans-Assyrians-Arameans) predominantly live in the town of Ankawa, Erbil, Nuhadra (Dohuk).