“This is a humbling disease that cuts across humanity in the whole world with no consideration of whether one is rich or poor. It is a tiny invisible bacteria that is wreaking havoc more than the most powerful weapons of war can. The rich cannot protect themselves against it nor can they cure themselves because there is no cure against it yet”, says His Exc. Mgr. Sithembele Sipuka, Bishop of Mthatha, South Africa, in a message dedicated to the spread of Coronavirus.
“Unlike HIV/AIDS which is largely acquired through lifestyle, and can at times lead to judgemental attitudes and stigmatization, Covid- 19 allows no opportunity to point fingers for no one can fully behave oneself out of Coronavirus infection risk. Close to 100 priests have died in Italy from Covid- 19”, underlines Mgr. Sipuka, according to Fides News Agency.
In South Africa, 1686 cases of Covid-19 have been registered. The authorities have imposed a lockdown from March 26 until April 16. Mgr. Sipuka, however, recalls that “With our poor economic conditions, particularly for those people living in informal settlement, there is no certainty that the lockdown will be as successful as in China”. “One just needs to think of a family living in one room made of corrugated iron, if one of them is infected how difficult it will be not to have serial infection”.
“Already in Cape Town Khayelitsha informal settlement, a case of infection has been recorded”, recalls the Bishop. “So there is a reason to be worried and scared because once this pandemic hits poor areas, it will decimate huge numbers of people, it will be a plague”, said Mgr. Sipuka, who notes that “with increasing numbers of infections daily, it is worrying that infections will now come from within the communities than from outside”.
“We pray to God that the lockdown will bring the desired effect and people can get on with their ways of making a living”, writes the Bishop, thinking of the economic consequences for the weakest people. “What can we do for these people now, I ask myself because we are not able to go out, even if we could help some with food parcels? What shall we do when the lockdown is over because the indications are that the situation will get worse economically? More and more people will not afford the basics”
Mgr. Sipuka, therefore, launched an appeal to the clergy and religious “to share our food because the resources of the faithful alone will not be sufficient”.