Safety first: Churchgoers urged to practise social distancing

Ministers, pastors and church leaders are being advised to encourage churchgoers to practise social distancing, in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19)

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Principal Medical Officer, National Epidemiologist, Ministry of Health and Wellness, Dr Karen Webster-Kerr, said that pastors should inform their congregation about the need to practise social distancing, which keeps people from interacting closely or frequently enough to spread an infectious disease.

Principal Medical Officer, National Epidemiologist, Dr Karen Webster-Kerr (right) at a press conference with Minister of Health & Wellness, Dr Christopher Tufton. (Photo: Tashna-Toya Edwards/BUZZ)

“We would recommend that persons keep a safe distance, at least one metre (three feet between yourself and anyone), especially if you are not from the same household,” she said.

Dr Webster-Kerr is also recommending that persons avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth.

“Persons keep a safe distance, at least one metre (three feet between yourself and anyone), especially if you are not from the same household”

— Dr Webster-Kerr

“If you are coughing or having any respiratory symptoms, then you really shouldn’t be at church, but if by chance you cough, you should cover your nose and mouth with a tissue and then wash your hands, and that may not be likely if you are at church, so we recommend you use an alcohol-based sanitiser with at least 62 per cent of alcohol,” she said.

Additionally, she said that members of the congregation should also have access to alcohol-based hand sanitisers in the church.

“If we practise good hygiene, then many diseases would be decreased”

— Dr Webster-Kerr

“We would recommend that ministers and pastors share with the congregation how to prevent the spread of COVID-19, so that persons will act responsibly and with knowledge,” she said, adding that information on COVID-19 is available on the Ministry’s website: www.moh.gov.jm.

“All of this has to do with good hygiene, and if we practise good hygiene, then many diseases would be decreased,” she emphasised.

The Principal Medical Officer is also advising that all surfaces should be wiped before and after church services, to ensure that there are no fomites, a substance that is capable of transmitting infectious organisms from one individual to another.

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Wipe surfaces that are often touched.

“We suggest that you wipe down the areas, especially those that are often touched, with at least 62 per cent alcohol, and areas that can be wiped down with soap and water and bleach – those can be used as well,” she added.

She said that air-conditioning units and filters should be washed, as well as carpets shampooed or vacuumed weekly.