By Sarah Mac Donald - 11 February, 2020
The serious outbreak of the Coronavirus in China and its spread to 24 other countries is a reminder of the “fragility of life”, Bishop Michael Router, chair of the Council for Healthcare of the Bishops’ Conference has said.
In a statement for World Day of the Sick today, the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, Bishop Router encouraged people to pray for those affected by the virus and for the efforts to bring the outbreak under control.
The total death toll from the virus so far is 910 with 40,484 people infected. The number of deaths has surpassed those of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which left 774 people dead in its wake over 2002 and 2003.
Coronavirus virus was first identified in December in Wuhan city in China.
Elsewhere in his statement, Bishop Router referred to Pope Francis’ message for World Day of the Sick in which the Pontiff called for a more holistic approach to those who are sick or suffering. “Rather than thinking only about curing we should also reflect on the quality of our caring,” the auxiliary bishop of Armagh said.
He also noted that Pope Francis had urged healthcare professionals to see the person behind the patient.
Those working in the field of medicine, he highlighted, are encouraged by the Pope to “strive to promote the dignity and life of each person, and reject any compromise in the direction of euthanasia, assisted suicide or suppression of life, even in the case of terminal illness,” Dr Router stressed.
Pope Francis, he noted, asks us to remember “that life is sacred and belongs to God; hence it is inviolable and no one can claim the right to dispose of it freely”.
He said this may involve conscientious objection from time to time in order to stay true to one’s “yes to life”.
“The healthcare professional who may no longer be able to provide a cure can still provide care and healing and bring comfort and relief,” he emphasised.
Bishop Router also highlighted that Pope Francis has asked the faithful to remember those who, through warfare or poverty, have no access to healthcare.
The Pope, he said, encouraged governments and healthcare institutions to ensure that everyone has access to suitable treatments for preserving and restoring their health.
Pope Francis’ message for World Day of the Sick 2020 can be read here: