10 March, 2020
The New Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new type of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan City, China. It starts with flu-like symptoms including fever, cough, or shortness of breath. The current evidence is that most cases appear to be mild. However, symptoms can develop into severe pneumonia. In general, the New Coronavirus can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions such as diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.
Members of the public can help protect themselves and others by carrying tissues at all times, and using them to catch coughs and sneezes. They should throw the tissue in the bin, and to kill the germs, washing hands with soap and water, or use a disinfectant fluid. This is the best way to slow the spread of most germs, including the New Coronavirus.
We are keen to ensure that Baptist Union of Wales Churches follow the latest advice provided by Public Health Wales. (https://phw.nhs.wales/topics/latest-information-on-novel-coronavirus-covid-19/).
At the same time, we wish to provide general guidance within our particular context, trusting that we will respond responsibly, timely and above all in a way that demonstrates concern and care for others.
Guidance for Churches
- We do not currently see a cause to postpone any aspects of the normal work of our churches. However, we note the need to emphasize personal hygiene, following the instructions noted above from Public Health Wales. (https://phw.nhs.wales/topics/latest-information-on-novel-coronavirus-covid-19/)
- As a matter of good practice, any concern from members or attendees in relation to greeting others, e.g. shaking hands, hugs etc., should be respected.
- If it is custom in your Church to use a common communion cup, this practice should be discontinued, using only individual cups. Care should also be taken when serving the bread in communion that those who prepare and those who serve pay special attention to hygiene.
- If it is your Church practice to prepare a cup of tea or food, a specific risk assessment should be undertaken and the usual food hygiene advice followed carefully. The latest advice can be found on your local council’s food hygiene website.
- At present, there is no reason to suspend any activity with children and youth, although this may change in the short term. Having said that, leaders should be sensitive to the choice of activities / games to ensure everyone honours any concerns that may be in the mind of parents / guardians / children / youth.
- If you are organizing house groups, special attention should be paid to hygiene when inviting others to attend, or when preparing any drinks / refreshments for attendees.
Guidance for Ministers
We are well aware of our responsibility to be a caring presence in situations where people may be suffering physically, experiencing concern or anxiety, caring for a family member / friend, or having to temporarily restrict their own movements. In such a context our ministers / workers will need to consider an appropriate response in every context. Having said this, we believe that we should provide some guidance.
- Leaders and members will need a shared understanding of pastoral care during this period. While keen to ensure that care is offered, ministers should exercise sensitivity in asking themselves whether a visit to a home or care home / nursing home is always appropriate. As a large number of our members belong to those groups that are considered as especially vulnerable, we should act in a way that recognizes this.
- As noted in relation to Churches, the need for personal hygiene is stressed and at the same time the need to respect the concern or worry of individuals in relation to shaking hands, hugging etc.
- We are keen to ensure, however, that we do not neglect to visit where necessary, to ensure telephone contact etc.
We will update the guidance when new advice is issued by Public Health Wales.