Warning from Maronite parish hit by COVID-19

Fr Tony Sarkis of Our Lady of Lebanon Co Cathedral in western Sydney (ABC News/Jonathan Hair)

Our Lady of Lebanon Co-Cathedral in Sydney’s west, which found itself linked to a number of COVID-19 cases, has a warning for other places of worship during the pandemic. Source: ABC News.

“It’s not a joke,” Fr Tony Sarkis told the ABC. “We shouldn’t fear and panic, but we need to follow procedure.”

The Maronite Catholic parish found itself dragged into Sydney’s community transmission crisis after a parishioner tested positive last month, and further testing revealed a slew of cases.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian singled out places of worship during her most recent COVID-19 press conference, urging attendees to cover their faces.

Several places of worship in Sydney’s west have been subject to COVID-19 alerts — the most recent, St Agatha’s Catholic Church in Pennant Hills.

Ms Berejiklian said she was concerned coronavirus testing levels were tipping within high-risk communities in Sydney’s west and south-west and she urged residents of those communities to get tested.

Fr Sarkis from Our Lady of Lebanon said his community is now extra vigilant after its cluster.

He advised other churches to be co-operative with the Government and the health department “because all together we can make a difference”.

The cathedral can normally hold 1,200 people but has been scaled back to just 100 worshippers per service. Among other measures, worshipers must book online to attend services, which are also live-streamed.

Parishes in the Parramatta Diocese have been “highly recommending” parishioners wear face masks to mass, with strong uptake.

FULL STORY

Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral was the centre of a coronavirus cluster — they’ve got a warning for others (By Jonathan Hair, ABC News

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