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In Philippines, no handshakes during Sign of Peace, while Hong Kong diocese cancels public services, as coronavirus fears grow

Drastic measure to be implemented for weeks as outbreak continues to claim lives in China. Some dioceses cancel public services, including for Ash Wednesday. In certain countries the Catholic Church has already issued guidelines to stem the spread of the disease.


Ash Wednesday services, as well as all public Masses for the next two weeks, have been cancelled in Hong Kong in the face of the coronavirus.

The threat of COVID-19 — the novel coronavirus which has claimed over 1,100 lives in mainland China — has forced Catholic leaders in Hong Kong to suspend church activities for the next two weeks.

Cardinal John Tong, apostolic administrator of Hong Kong, said the next two weeks will be a “crucial time to suppress the epidemic.”

He urged everyone “not to panic” and to “deepen our trust in God and implement our Christian love for our neighbors and all people.”

Meanwhile, in response to the threat from the coronavirus, the Philippine Catholic Church issued guidelines advising churchgoers to refrain from shaking hands during the Sign of Peace and holding hands during the Lord’s Prayer.

The Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines in its circular to all bishops and diocesan administrators advised the taking of measures to prevent the acquisition and spread of the disease, and urged everyone to pray as one nation for all those who are suffering brought by the disease.

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