Coronavirus not just a European problem, says Cape Town archbishop

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Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town is “desperately worried” that South Africans – and people throughout Africa – are not taking the coronavirus seriously enough. 

He says in a public service announcement released today [Sunday] that he is worried that Africans will treat the virus as “a European problem”, and not an African problem. “Viruses do not have passports, they don’t know borders, they don’t respect race or colour.” 

He also expresses his fear that “a lot of people will be affected” if the virus spreads in South Africa, with its high incidence of HIV, Aids and TB. 

He adds: “Please help to reduce it by constantly washing your hands, sanitising and avoiding as much as possible public events where the virus may be spread.” 

A transcript of the full text of his appeal – made in the form of a PSA to camera – follows:
I am desperately worried that the coronavirus is described as a European problem by some of the media. As we know, viruses do not have passports, they don’t know borders, they don’t respect race or colour.

The virus, the coronavirus, will affect us in Africa, will affect us in South Africa, because there is also the notion that if there is a pre-existing condition, the virus, the coronavirus is much more severe. You can imagine in Africa, or let me look at South Africa in particular, where the scourge or the incidence of TB and HIV and AIDS is high, so when corona[virus] strikes, a lot of people will be affected.

So I pray that we will really give this coronavirus, its impact, the urgency that it deserves in Africa and in South Africa, and not just bask in the fact that it is a European problem.

Please help to reduce it by constantly washing your hands, sanitising and avoiding as much as possible public events where the virus may be spread. And I know it seems also funny when we ask people in the Church not to give the usual Peace or an embrace, but please, just wave at each other during this uncertain time as an expression of the Peace. Please just share Communion in one kind [rather] than using wafers and wine.

Repeat: sanitise your hands, be responsible, ensure that you care for one another, and spread the word that corona is not only a European issue but it also affects us in Africa.