There is no evidence suggesting any direct connection of religious gatherings with the latest COVID-19 spike in Gaocheng District, Shijiazhuang, China’s northern Hebei Province, said local authorities on Saturday.
All the local registered places of worship were shut down and all religious activities suspended immediately after the province’s capital saw 31 confirmed patients out of the recent 123 cases in the province as of Friday, according to the Health Commission of Hebei, and reported by the country’s national CCTV News on January 9.
The local government stated that there are 122 Christians in a village with a population of 4721. They refuted the claim of the village being primarily Catholic. The online circulated accusation that “priests from Europe and the US preached in the district” is also false.
It added, “Before the outbreak, a gathering attended by some religious people at a villager’s house may have spread the infections just like other gathering activities, but there is no proof that religious gatherings were directly related to the source of the outbreak.”
“All religious avenues were closed down and all religious activities were suspended after the local spike. The religious believers understand the situation, are are showing full cooperation and support for prevention and control measures.”
On January 7, the Patriotic Catholic Association of the Gaocheng District denounced the rumors that Catholics caused the pandemic to spread in the city. The Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association and Chinese Catholic Bishops College issued a document supporting the claim the next day.