The Roman Catholic Church in Rwanda has today announced change of its traditional liturgy in response to the government’s call to reinforce preventive measures of Ebola including handshakes which are part of the liturgy during wishing peace to worshipers during mass.
The Catholic Church’s said it would temporarily make changes to how mass is conducted at churches in regions bordering DR Congo.
“For example instead of people shaking hands or hugging which creates direct contact, people can simply bow at each other,” Msgr Nsengumuremyi Jean Marie Vianey the Archbishop Nyondo diocese said referring to the rite of peace.
He added: “Liturgy of the Eucharist, where people at mass are served hand-to-tongue/hand by priests can be stopped.”
The announcement was made after faith-based groups meeting with Local Government Minister Prof Anastase Shyaka and Health’s Dr Diane Gashumba.
The current outbreak in the DRC – tenth in the country’s history – has already caused 1,813 deaths among 2,701 cases and has become the second most serious epidemic in the world, only surpassed by the one that crossed West Africa in 2014, with more than 11,000 deceased.
The outbreak is located in the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri, bordering with South Sudan, Uganda and Rwanda.
Ebola virus is transmitted through direct contact with contaminated blood and body fluids, causes hemorrhagic fever and can reach a mortality rate of 90% if not treated in time.