Influenza has spread throughout Maine, affected all the counties and it already killed 21 Mainers. The situation looks serious as the CDC asked people and institutes to follow some guidelines in order to stop the influenza spreading. As a result, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland changed some of the Catholic practices trying to maintain the health of its regular churchgoers.
The representatives of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland made a statement on Thursday saying that, until influenza passes, holding hands during Lord’s Prayer and consecrated wine sharing during communion will be suspended.
Even more, the officials of the Diocese asked people not to shake hands as greetings during the practice of the passing of the peace.
Priests also received new guidance during this year’s influenza epidemy in Maine. They’ve been asked to sanitize their hands before and after each communion and to give the Sacramental bread in the parishioners’ hands instead of putting it in the worshippers’ mouths, as normally.
Also, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops asked for a good hygiene practice among the priests and begged sick churchgoers to stay at home in order to keep the flu under control.
This is the second consecutive year when influenza hits Mainers. However, this year’s flu epidemy seems a little harder to outcome in comparison to the one in 2017. The CDC has already registered 21 flu-confirmed deaths but Sara Robinson at the CDC’s office in Maine thinks that the real number of flu victims is bigger. She bases her statements on the fact that there could be people who have died because of secondary complications of influenza:
‘A large proportion of people who die from complications of influenza die from the secondary complications, so they’ll get bacterial pneumonia after they get the flu,’ said Robinson.
Hopefully, the measures taken by the authorities will diminish the effects of the flu.