The Zion Christian Church (ZCC) will on Saturday meet with the health and emergency services professional within the church to discuss their annual Easter pilgrimage in the face of developments around the coronavirus pandemic.

In a letter sent out by the church council, and seen by SABC News, the church is requesting their branches to send to Moria members who are “Doctors, professional nurses and Emergency Services” professionals who are on the different branches’ District Property Task Team (DPTT).

No details are given out in the letter as to what exactly will be discussed, but it is understood that the church is seeking a further professional opinion on the developments before it can make an informed decision about the annual conference, in view of the deadly virus that has affected the entire world.

It is understood since the outbreak, the church has been in constant contact with the Department of Health and other relevant parties and that they are putting control measures in place to mitigate the spread of the virus in Moria.

Never in the history of the ZCC has the church ever had to cancel a conference.

On Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa declared the situation a national disaster, prohibiting among others, gatherings of more than 100 people, which directly impacts the ZCC’s annual conference.

While many other organisations have moved to cancel their events, including the government’s Human Rights celebrations initially scheduled for Saturday, the ZCC, known to attract millions of churchgoers, has refused to jump onto the bandwagon, rather proceeding with a lot of caution and intense deliberation.

Easter services cancelled

The Catholic Church in Johannesburg has cancelled all its Easter services. The Archdiocese of Johannesburg, the biggest Archdiocese in the country, says it will be impossible to control the number of faithful to less than 100 during the Easter weekend.

A spokesperson for the Catholic Church, Father Mduduzi Ndlovu says they are encouraging the faithful to pray in smaller communities.

“The masses are going to be cancelled starting in Palm Sunday. Masses for Holy Week that is Good Friday, Holy Saturday and so on will be cancelled because of course, we cannot ascertain nor will we be able to have numbers that are below a hundred and other arrangements in the instance that can help us to have masses below a hundred should be taken up.”

Another religious organisation formally heeding the 30-day ban on public gatherings of over 100 people, due to coronavirus is the Durban’s Shri Mariammen Temple in Mount Edgecombe.

The Durban’s Shri Mariammen Temple is a popular destination for thousands of locals and tourists during the Easter period.

In a statement, the temple says while the usual week-long festival has been cancelled, the temple will remain open. It is urging any visitors, however, to maintain strict hygiene levels on site.The eThekwini community church says that from Wednesday it will conduct its services online. These are expected to run throughout the Easter period.

To date, a total of 62 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in South Africa.

According to a statement released by the Department of Health on Monday, individuals with other existing medical conditions such as chronic lung disease and immune suppression are more vulnerable and may experience severe symptoms if infected with COVID-19.

“Secondly, the overall fatality rate of COVID-19 is estimated to be 1-3%. Approximately 15% of those who develop disease require hospitalisation. Most cases, that is about 85% can self-quarantine at home. In this regard, the clinicians observing the patient will make this determination and advise if they view the patient as high risk and therefore requiring hospital admission or can recover from home.”

‘No reason to shut down court system’

Earlier on Tuesday, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng said there was no reason to shut down the court system in the face of the coronavirus outbreak. Mogoeng Mogoeng said contingency measures were being set in place at all courts.

Mogoeng was briefing the media at his offices in Midrand, Johannesburg. These are in line with government directives following President Cyril Ramaphosa declaring the pandemic a national disaster.

Mogoeng says only if the situation worsened aggressively would the Judiciary reconsider.

“May God bless our people. We need not be as cursed as we appear to be by this virus but to be blessed. We need an economy that is flourishing. We need normalcy to shake hands and hug and those who know just how powerful prayer can be, I plead with you from the depths of my heart that at least every Wednesday and every Sunday go out there in groups that do not exceed 70 to pray,” says Mogoeng.

Several attempts to get hold of the ZCC church elder, Reverend Emmanuel Motolla drew a blank.

In the video below, the Judiciary briefs the media on measures to be adopted by courts amid COVID-19:

Below is a Live Tracking of the cases, death toll and other information, updated daily: