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Sunday masses suspended in Odisha

Bhubaneswar: Churches in Odisha have decided to suspend Sunday mass till March 31 as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus outbreak.

The Odia Baptist Church in Cuttack, one of the largest in the state, and the Church of Christ in Bhubaneswar on Wednesday decided to put all activities on hold in view of the coronavirus outbreak.

The Odia Baptist Church in Berhampur and Baptist churches in Khurda and Jatni also took similar decisions.Major churches in the state generally witness an average turnout of around 500 people during Sunday mass, sources said.

Lal Mohan Roul, president of Odia Baptist Church in Cuttack said, “We can understand the seriousness of the situation and extend our full cooperation to the administration.”

Church of Christ secretary Paresh Das said social distancing is the key to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

“During church worship, hundreds of people assemble to pray. In such a situation, it is difficult to ensure social distancing.

“The church board, in consultation with other stakeholders, decided to suspend all activities till March 31 after which the decision will be reviewed,” he said. There are 8.97 lakh Christians in Odisha, comprising around 2.44 per cent of the state’s population as per the 2011 Census. So far, one positive case of COVID-19 has been reported in the state.

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