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Church activities curtailed after deadly virus outbreak. (World).

CHINA: Catholic church services during Holy Week in Hong Kong will be curtailed as an increasing number of people are infected with a deadly pneumonia virus. To curb the spread of the disease, called severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, the Hong Kong diocese has suggested that the foot-washing rite during the Holy Thursday liturgy be suspended, Fr. Thomas Law Kwok-fai said. On April 2, Hong Kong authorities reported that of the 685 people infected by SARS 16 had died.

Law, who heads the diocesan liturgy commission, said the diocese also suggested that there be no baptism by immersion during the Easter Vigil April 19. However, a decision on canceling the Palm Sunday procession April 13 had not yet been made, he added.

In Canada, the Toronto archdiocese has also taken some precautions against the spread of the disease. It has issued a letter to priests saying that during Mass they can omit both the common cup of wine from the eucharistic liturgy as well as the practice of shaking hands in the exchange of peace. Nine people have died of the disease in Canada thus far, and 217 cases have been reported.

Briefs, gathered from news services, correspondents and staff, are compiled and edited by Gill Donovan.
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Title Annotation:Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome
Author:Donovan, Gill
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:9HONG
Date:Apr 18, 2003
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