SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Catholic Diocese has not called for the suspension of any practices at Mass in response to the new coronavirus that appeared in China and has been detected in several countries, including the United States, but is closely monitoring the situation.
At this point, San Diego County health authorities have said that the risk of exposure to the public is very low, especially if they have not traveled to one of the affected areas or have had contact with someone who has.
During flu season, the diocese routinely monitors the weekly influenza surveillance report published by the California Department of Public Health and any bulletins issued by San Diego County’s Health and Human Services Agency. Reports on the coronavirus, which is similar in many ways to the flu, are being monitored in the same way. When State or County health authorities determine that the risk of transmitting the virus has reached a certain threshold, the Bishop then suspends the cup for Holy Communion and many times the Sign of Peace. The diocese continues to monitor the public agency reports until such time that the virus level has fallen below the threshold level for two consistent weeks before lifting the suspension.
Pastors and parishioners will be kept fully informed through parish announcements, the diocese’s Facebook and Twitter accounts (@DioceseSanDiego), its diocesan news site (thesoutherncross.org) and press releases to the news media.
Steps to protect from seasonal flu
Meanwhile, the number of seasonal influenza deaths in the region increased to 39 after seven additional fatalities were reported last week, county health authorities announced Wednesday. A total of 1,880 cases were reported in the region last week, 380 fewer than the previous week.
County health officials are encouraging people who are sick to first contact their healthcare provider by telephone or arrange an urgent appointment. They should go to an emergency department when they have any of the following symptoms:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Chest pain or abdominal pain
- Sudden dizziness
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- Flu-like symptoms that appear to get better, but then return with a fever and worse cough
In addition to getting the flu vaccine, people should also do the following to avoid getting sick:
- Wash hands thoroughly and often
- Use hand sanitizers
- Stay away from sick people
- Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth
- Clean commonly touched surfaces
- If they are sick, they should stay home and avoid contact with others