SINGAPORE: The 27 parishes of the Anglican Church in Singapore on Thursday (Mar 19) suspended all worship services and gatherings until Apr 3, said the Anglican Diocese of Singapore.
"The Diocesan leadership has closely monitored the escalating COVID-19 situation and makes this contribution towards the concerted national effort to ‘flatten the coronavirus curve’," it said in a press release.
The suspension of services comes after a member of St Andrew's Cathedral was confirmed on Wednesday to have contracted the coronavirus.
The church member, who had been in the UK, attended a service last Sunday but had no symptoms of illness and passed precautionary screening, said the cathedral.
When the member attended a 9am service on Mar 15, the screening teams cleared and admitted 324 people into the church, the diocese said in a letter to church members.
This was done after social distancing measures were implemented to limit the size of the congregation.
During the cathedral's closure, the affected premises will be "professionally disinfected", the letter added.
The average weekly attendance of Singapore parishes is about 21,000, according to the diocese.
Bishop Rennis Ponniah told Anglican leaders in a letter that the decision to suspend services was made to "intentionally create a two-week break in church gatherings".
Online weekend services and pastoral care for the elderly and vulnerable will be made available during the suspension.
"Our churches will make the needful pastoral provisions to continue caring for and strengthening the flock during this time," said the diocese.
"The Bishop encouraged members to be a blessing to others in society, especially those in need. He ended with a prayer that God will help our nation to overcome this crisis."
The diocese said it intends to resume services on Apr 4 and 5, the start of Holy Week.
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The Catholic Church in Singapore last Thursday said it will continue to suspend mass in light of the rising number of COVID-19 infections in Singapore.
As of Thursday night, 345 people in Singapore have been infected with COVID-19, with 124 fully recovered and discharged from hospitals.
Several of the cases have been linked to clusters at the Grace Assembly of God, The Life Church and Missions church and the Church of Singapore (Bukit Timah).