Taiwanese Cardinal Asks for Calm Amid SARS Scare

«We Must Avoid Spreading Panic,» He Says

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TAIPEI, Taiwan, MAY 8, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Cardinal Paul Shan Kuo-hsi of Kaohsiung urged a show of calm and solidarity over the SARS scare in Taiwan.

«We must avoid spreading panic over SARS among the public,» he told the Fides news service. «Instead we must pray and show solidarity with doctors and patients.»

To battle severe acute respiratory syndrome, the local Church has adopted the same precautionary measures issued by the Church in Hong Kong, the cardinal said.

«We ask people in church to wear face masks, avoid physical contact and receive holy Communion in the hand,» he said. «We are doing our best to prevent the disease from spreading.»

«There is tension among the people, especially because the media spread alarm and fear of contagion,» the cardinal contended.

«In every parish in Taiwan, Sunday, May 11, will be a day of special prayers for the victims of SARS,» he explained. «We bishops have urged the people to keep praying for the patients and for the medical staff fighting the disease and to provide all the necessary assistance.»

In Taiwan most cases are reported in the north where people tend to travel more and have more contact with mainland China and Hong Kong. SARS has also hit Fu Jen Catholic University in Taipei, where two students in the infirmary have been put in quarantine. Classes have been suspended for two days.

The global toll from SARS climbed above 500 dead and 7,000 infected as the World Health Organization declared that the disease is far more deadly than it previously thought, the Associated Press reported.

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