A Buddhist hall in Hong Kong on Wednesday apologised for not shutting its temple and suspending gatherings sooner, after multiple worshippers and its own master contracted Covid-19.
Breaking its silence over the outbreak, Fook Wai Ching She, a temple in North Point established in 1958, said there had been no consensus among followers on whether to close during the Lunar New Year. Since the holiday in late January, 19 people connected to the venue have been infected.
“Our followers were not sensitive enough … we deeply regret and feel sad about the coronavirus cluster infection,” it said in a statement published in local newspapers.
“We were caught off guard at the time, when one after another Buddhist disciples and their relatives were infected, which also caused anxiety and alert from the media. Meanwhile, we completely lacked experience and have not cooperated well with the government personnel and members of the press. We sincerely feel sorry about it.”
The statement concluded by expressing hope that the epidemic would come to an end: “We pray with our most sincere heart that ... all infected patients will recover soon, the epidemic will soon end, social order will be restored and people will be at ease.”
As of noon on Wednesday, Hong Kong had confirmed 120 Covid-19 cases. The temple is linked to 19 of them, which include its master, worshippers and worshippers’ relatives. Health officials believed gatherings were held at the temple during Lunar New Year, where worshippers shared meals. Traces of the virus were found inside the venue, on a tap and on some books.
More than 200 worshippers had previously made themselves known to local authorities, but officials struggled to trace all who visited the hall from late January to early February.
The 43-year-old temple master, who lives in the hall, was also quarantined and later diagnosed last Wednesday, despite never showing symptoms. In January he travelled to Xiamen in Fujian province and Emei in Sichuan province, medical sources said.
The Centre for Health Protection previously said it was yet to determine whether the monk was the original carrier in the cluster.
This article Coronavirus: Hong Kong Buddhist temple linked to Covid-19 cluster ‘sincerely sorry’ first appeared on South China Morning Post