Association of Churches prepares for next action under RMCO

Archbishop Simon Poh

By Peter Sibon

KUCHING, June 9: The Association of Churches in Sarawak (ACS) will work closely with Unit for Other Religions (Unifor) and the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) on the next plan of action under the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO), said ACS chairman Archbishop Simon Poh.

He added that there needs to be a concerted effort to work closely with other religious bodies in Sarawak to fight the Covid-19 pandemic which has so far infected more than 7 million and killed over 400,000 people worldwide.

“On the schedule for the opening of churches, we are currently working closely with Unifor for common guidelines to be implemented. And we will only follow the directives issued by SDMC which is monitoring the local situation on the ground in the State.

“Working together in a concerted effort with all spiritual leaders of the various faith in Sarawak, we are confident that together, we can contain and eradicate Covid-19 in Sarawak,” said Poh today.

He said ACS and the Churches in Sarawak welcomed the less restrictive RMCO as the nation recovers from the last three months.

“Ultimately the aims of RMCO is to prevent any further outbreak and especially the second wave of infection. As such, the social distancing and health precautions have continued to be strictly maintained and adhered to as more sectors of business and offices are being opened,” he opined.

Citing an example of an image that has been circulating on social media referring to lessons learnt from the Spanish Flu of 1918 when the second wave with more fatalities happened because people rejoiced in the streets with abandon, after the first period of lockdown.

“In the image, I like the line “Relaxation is only given by the Government but Corona hasn’t given relaxation” and will be ready to break out again should we throw caution to the wind.

Under RMCO, he advised the Christian community in Sarawak not to be complacent against the deadly coronavirus.

“At this juncture, immediately after the initial first wave of Covid-19 lockdown where people are relieved that we are now free to move about between districts and States. But, in order to not contribute to a new second wave, each person will need to remain vigilant by maintaining social distancing and practise personal safety and hygiene in hand washing, avoiding touching face and wearing masks in public places,” he stressed.

Poh also hoped that ACS member churches would continue to advocate for prudence and to proceed cautiously with a possible spike of Covid-19 positive cases on June 15.

“As I had calculated earlier, I am basing my consideration by counting 14-day as the average cycle of Covid-19. Thus, with the recent Raya and Gawai celebrations on 25th May and 1st June respectively, we acknowledge that there have been more social interactions.

“Any gatherings where there are bigger numbers of persons are potential for a new outbreak, even when just one person is Covid-19 positive. Furthermore, recent reports have attested to many asymptomatic persons who are Covid-19 positive.

“Accordingly, I would like to advocate caution and prudence by waiting for 15th June for further statistics to be seen. Above all, churches will wait for guidelines from SDMC, before any decision for opening the churches for gathering is made,” added Poh.

Meanwhile, Poh, who is also the head of the Catholic church in Sarawak said, he had issued a 5-page Standard Operating Instruction and guidelines for Catholic Churches to be studied and to serve as preparation for the opening of churches, taking into consideration the new norms of social distancing and especially for the distribution of Holy Communion for Church members.

“I am directing all Catholic Churches, and appealing to all Churches under ACS to be prudent and cautious by waiting until 15th June before we make any decision. —DayakDaily