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KetteIn order to find out how Covid 19 affects the Central African Republic, the SMA International Media Centre had the opportunity to obtain information from Fr. Justin Kette. He had gone to attend the Assembly of the Central African District but was unable to return due to the suspension of international flights. He explains the current situation and the measures that have been taken by both the Episcopal Conference and the government.

"Have mercy, my God! If you're really kind, don't let Coronavirus into the working class of Central African Republic, otherwise, your people will die like flies and no one would save them!”

Father Justin Kette has been "in Bangui in Central Africa for the Assembly of the District which took place from March 16 to 21." He had planned to return on 31 March to Alsace where he is "still the parish priest until the end of the pastoral year. But that's it! Coronavirus blocked me in Bangui.” He took the opportunity «to prepare a number of District files,” he said. In France, containment measures taken to combat the spread of Coronavirus are «similar to those taken by the Central African authorities," according to Fr. Justin. In the Central African Republic, known data indicate that 6 people are infected (note that this is by the time this article is written); these cases are all "imported" from Europe (from Italy and France). Following the government measures such as banning people from gathering, closing Bangui airport, drinking establishments, schools, universities and professionals, and banning long-distance travel, the Central African Episcopal Conference has taken specific measures for the Catholic community. These include the closure of Catholic schools, the suspension of eucharistic celebrations involving more than 15 people, activities of movements, fraternities and prayer groups, the administration of the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, marriage and the Order, as well as the celebration of funerals. A week after the publication of these measures, Father Justin noted that the « reactions we hear in Bangui leave anyone coming from Europe perplexed. One gets the impression that it is the carelessness, the denial and the refusal to see reality in the face that prevails. Even though the civil and religious authorities are calling for attention because Coronavirus is already in Central Africa, it " seems that prevention against Coronavirus is not accepted by the Central African lambda! he observed. The streets and markets of Bangui are still crowded with people. Avoiding shaking hands has not yet become a habit. He also noted that "the taxis and buses are always crowded with people. Motorcycle taxis continue to carry 3 to 4 passengers at a time…” In recent days, the police have been using railway stations to force people in Bangui to enter the dynamics of prevention against Coronavirus by obliging taxi, bus and motorcycle taxi drivers to reduce the number of passengers. Some people say, according to him, that "it is God who protects! Coronavirus won't kill Central Africans!" And to push the spiritual to the extreme, others say that in the name of their faith, Coronavirus will never reach them! Father Justin began to " imagine how it is possible to confine a people who do not have access to basic services: no drinking water or electricity for everyone, and the health facilities are not equipped to deal with a pandemic of this magnitude...” In Bangui, as everywhere in the Central African Republic, people live day to day and promiscuity is visible everywhere. Confining a city like Bangui is like subjecting people to collective suicide. Seeing the way of life of the Central Africans, Father Justin was trying to pray thus: "Have mercy, my God! If you're really kind, don't let Coronavirus into the working class of Central African Republic, otherwise, your people will die like flies and no one can save them!”  He hopes that the good God will hear his prayer and save the people of Central Africa and the whole world from Coronavirus made in China!

                                                                                                             Dominic Wabwireh, SMA