Nigerian churches drop Sign of Peace as Ebola crisis grows

Catholic dioceses in Nigeria have advised priests to skip the Sign of Peace at Mass as one of several measures against the spread of the deadly Ebola virus.

West Africa is faces a worsening crisis from the disease.

Nigerian priests in some dioceses have also been advised to refrain from giving Communion on the tongue, unless the communicant insists.

But priests have been warned not to let their hands touch the tongues of communicants.

Nigeria’s bishops are expected to discuss these measures again next week.

Ebola is spread by contact with human body fluids.

Archbishop Adewale Martins of Lagos told priests that the Sign of Peace is optional, a point re-iterated by a recent circular from the Vatican.

The archbishop also ordered that holy water fonts be discontinued.

Priests were advised to exercise extreme care when visiting patients and to clean their hands with a hand sanitiser after anointing the sick.

Those counting the collection at Mass have been asked to wear protective gloves.

Special intercessory prayers to be said for the sick at Mass have also been distributed.

There have been 10 Ebola cases in Nigeria recently, with at least two deaths.

Nearby Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia have had nearly 1000 deaths.

All these nations have declared a state of emergency to authorise additional funds to combat the crisis.

The current Ebola outbreak is on pace to infect more people than all previous outbreaks of the virus combined.

The disease has no known cure or vaccine.

A recent fatality was a Congolese nun, who contracted Ebola while working with Spanish Catholic missionaries in Liberia.

The Spanish government says a Catholic priest, infected with Ebola in Liberia, will be treated with an experimental drug, Zmapp, in a hospital in Madrid.

The drug has been used in the US on two aid workers who have shown signs of improvement.

The World Health Organisation has declared an international health emergency.


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