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Jakarta Post

Hundreds attend ordination Mass in East Nusa Tenggara despite COVID-19 warnings

  • Markus Makur

    The Jakarta Post

Manggarai, East Nusa Tenggara   /   Thu, March 19, 2020   /   01:17 pm
Hundreds attend ordination Mass in East Nusa Tenggara despite COVID-19 warnings Churchgoers pack into the Ruteng Cathedral in Ruteng, Manggarai, East Nusa Tenggara, to attend an ordination Mass of the new bishop on Thursday, March 19. (JP/Markus Makur)

Despite requests to cancel an ordination Mass for Siprianus Hormat, who was named the new bishop of Ruteng, following restrictions on mass gatherings amid the COVID-19 outbreak, organizers pressed ahead with the event in Ruteng district, Manggarai regency, East Nusa Tenggara, that was attended by hundreds of people on Thursday.

The ordination Mass began at 9 a.m. at the Ruteng Cathedral on Thursday.

Manggarai regent Deno Kamelus argued that the event was held under tight health screening with organizers providing hand sanitizer and checking the body temperatures of churchgoers before they entered the premise. He said around 1,500 people attended the event on Thursday.

“The visitors accounted for only 1 percent of the population of Manggarai Raya. The Manggarai regency administration and the organizers followed the protocols set by the central government,” he told The Jakarta Post.

He added that the administration would follow the policies set by the central government to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Siprianus was ordained to lead the Catholic congregations in Manggarai Raya, which comprises Manggarai, East Manggarai and West Manggarai regencies.

The administration decided to go ahead with the event, as it was scheduled months ago, Deno said.

“The administration and the organizers are also closely monitoring churchgoers from outside Manggarai while they are in Ruteng,” he added.

Previously, the head of the COVID-19 rapid-response team, Doni Monardo, had asked the Ruteng Archdiocese to postpone the ordination Mass to prevent spreading COVID-19.

"We beg you to postpone the event on behalf of humanity," he said in a letter sent to the cardinal and Manggarai regent as quoted from Kompas.com.

Doni expressed his concern that COVID-19 carriers could potentially transmit the virus to the elderly and the sick, who are especially vulnerable to the disease.

Indonesia has recorded 227 confirmed COVID-19 cases in 13 provinces with 19 fatalities. (trn)