31 January 2020

Dear brothers and sisters in the Archdiocese of Tokyo:




In the last few weeks, we have heard reports of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (nCoV), as well as several cases of infection here in Japan.

We must avoid the spread of suspicious information about this new infectious disease which causes people unnecessary anxiety. Since we are called to take precautions about influenza during this time of the year in Japan, it proves helpful that we are equipped with some common knowledge about proper preventive measures against infections, especially in the church where a large number of people gather.

I invite you to take note of the following information below, some of which may be common knowledge. I encourage everyone to take care of each other, brothers and sisters in and out of the Church, keeping healthy in mind and body, and acting wisely at all times.

1: As a general hygienic measure, let us not forget the cough etiquette, and let us wash our hands regularly. Alcohol hand sanitizers are to be made available near entrances of the church and parish hall.

2: For persons who are not feeling well, they need not force themselves to come to Church and may refrain from attending the mass. In particular, those who have cough, fever, breathing difficulties, and especially those displaying flu-like symptoms such as cough and fever of 37℃ or higher, are requested for the time being to refrain from coming to mass.
From 2 February onwards until further notice, those who are not feeling well due to flu-like symptoms will be exempted from the duty to attend the Sunday Mass.

3: For the time being from 2 February, no holy water will be placed in fonts at church entrances.

4: For persons who are worried about their physical condition, wearing of masks during the mass will be allowed. For the same reason, even lectors, commentators and altar servers may also wear masks.

5: Especially for priests and Eucharistic ministers, and for those who receive Holy Communion by hand, they should wash their hands thoroughly before the mass.

6: For persons with cough or fever, kindly refrain from receiving Holy Communion by mouth (tongue).

We will continue to closely monitor the development of the situation. However, if the authorities issue control measures advising people to refrain from having public assemblies, then we will comply accordingly.

Grounded on a faith that hopes for life, with compassion and love, let us pray to God our Father, through the intercession of our blessed Mother, that He may restore those who are infected and take full control of the situation.

Tarcisio Isao Kikuchi, SVD
Archbishop of Tokyo