The Roman Catholic Diocese of London has "a pandemic plan in place" to prevent the spread of the H1N1 pandemic flu virus, Bishop Ronald Fabbro announced Tuesday.
In a letter to parishioners, Fabbro said his diocese has received "many inquiries" about the diocese’s prevention plan.
"The diocese is taking these concerns seriously and is committed to putting in place measures to protect our people," he said.
The three-phase plan lists increasingly restrictive measures to be taken if and when the virus spreads.
Currently, the diocese is in Phase 0, which means no restrictions in liturgical practices is necessary.
Phase 1 would require withdrawal of communion from the cup and on the tongue, giving only verbal greetings of peace instead of shaking hands, and installing hand sanitizers at church doors.
Phase 2, the most serious phase, would force churches to remove holy water from their entrances and sanitize their pews and hymnals before Sunday services.
Phases 1 and 2 will disrupt normal church practices, but is "something that we’re going to have to do," said Mark Adkinson, the diocese’s director of communications.
"We have to be aware of some health concerns and so reducing the amount of personal contact in public spaces is one way to do that," he said. "It’s basically for the greater well-being of the community."
The diocese is currently in Phase 0 status.
The diocese oversees 138 parishes throughout southwestern Ontario, including ones in Windsor, Sarnia and Chatham-Kent.
Category: Public Health