THE Department of Public Health Mid West has urged Catholic dioceses across the mid west region to defer First Holy Communion and Confirmation ceremonies until September, to help curb the spread of Covid-19 in the region.
The Department’s Limerick headquarters yesterday sent a letter to Bishops in Limerick, Cashel & Emily, and Killaloe, recommending they defer the ceremonies until the Autumn.
Last month the Limerick region identified the highest incidence of Covid-19, however there has been a significant reduction in cases locally down from 74 cases on June 6 to 16 cases yesterday.
A Department spokesman said: “The Department of Public Health Mid West can confirm that it has issued recommendations to the relevant diocesan offices to defer First Holy Communion and Confirmation ceremonies in the Mid-West region.”
“It is our view that these services should be deferred until this September due to a number of factors, including: The current high rate of COVID-19 infection in the Mid-West region; and that by September most of those eligible should be fully vaccinated against COVID.”
“While we are confident that churches and places of worship have been generally safe environments within the parameters of Public Health guidelines, indoor gatherings and celebrations traditionally associated with Communions and Confirmations are considered high-risk settings for those who are unvaccinated.”
The spokesman said the department “is continuing to work with experts nationwide in monitoring the situation surrounding variants of concern (VOC), particularly the emerging Delta variant (B.1.617.2)”.
“While the incidence of this variant remains low in the Mid-West region (<10), we are concerned about the increase in transmission of the Delta variant nationwide,” they said.
“We urge everyone to register for a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as they are eligible to do so. It is important that as many people as possible are fully vaccinated in order to offer you best protections against variants, including the Delta variant.”
A number of communions and confirmation ceremonies in the region had been deferred to the Autumn prior to dioceses receiving the Department’s letter.
In the past 14 days 510 cases were identified in the region, mostly in Limerick, down from 830+ cases over the previous two weeks.
Two free walk-in clinics are operating in Limerick, at St Joseph’s Health Canpus on Mulgrave Street and at the former tourist offices at Arthur’s Quay Park. A test centre by appointment is also running at the Eastpoint Business Park, Ballysimon Road, Eircode V94 KN73.