Nipah virus: Church in Kozhikode to stop giving holy communion on tongue

Nipah virus: Church in Kozhikode to stop giving holy communion on tongue

People wear masks as they wait outside a casualty ward at a hospital in Kozhikode. Reuters Photo

In view of the Nipah virus outbreak claiming 16 lives in Kerala, the Syro-Malabar church here has decided to stop serving the Holy Communion to the faithful on their tongue.

The Thamarassery diocese here in a circular informed people about the church’s decision that the holy communion, the sacrament commemorating the last supper in which bread and wine are placed on their tongues, will henceforth be kept on their palms as a precautionary step, until further notice.

Baptisms, housewarmings, marriages and prayer gatherings, which can be postponed, should be re-scheduled considering the special circumstances in the wake of Nipah, the Bishop Mar Remigiose Inchananiyil said in the circular.

Believers need to be alert against the virus and strictly follow the directives issued by the state authorities to maintain extreme caution in the wake of the virus claiming 16 lives so far, he said.

The circular further said that the catechism classes, which were to begin from tomorrow, have been postponed until June 10 while family gatherings and meetings should also be avoided.

Unnecessary journeys, public meetings and celebrations have to be avoided totally, it said. Eighteen positive cases of Nipah virus have been reported in Kerala since its outbreak in May, of whom 16 have died.

The natural host of the virus is believed to be fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family, Pteropus genus.