STK Temple Square

The Salt Lake Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, at left, is photographed along with Temple Square, the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, lower right, and the Church Office Building, top right, on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016, in Salt Lake City. In the background is the Utah State Capitol. 

On Friday, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued an update on the effect of the coronavirus on full time missionaries serving in Asia.

“As an update, missionaries who recently left the China Hong Kong Mission are completing their 14-day self-isolation and are preparing to depart for their new, temporary assignments,” the church’s statement said.

The statement continued to say church leaders will carry on evaluating the needs of other missionaries serving in regions where concern about the virus is elevated.

“The manner in which people are meeting, greeting one another and gathering has changed because of concerns about the virus, making missionary work especially difficult,” the statement said.

As a precaution, missionaries in the following missions have been instructed to remain in their apartments and avoid going outside except to purchase food and other supplies, to exercise, or to attend worship services (where held). Those missions include: Cambodia Phnom Penh Mission, Singapore Mission and Thailand Bangkok Mission.

Whenever they are outside, missionaries are urged to stay at least 6 feet away from others and avoid any personal interaction, the church statement said. During this time, missionaries will teach people through phone calls or other technology.

“These guidelines will be in place until further notice. Additionally, all missionaries who were preparing to arrive in these three missions will be temporarily reassigned to other countries until the situation stabilizes,” the statement said.

Missionaries in the Mongolia Ulaanbaatar Mission are taking similar precautions but are making limited visits to people when invited, according to the church.

“Missionaries throughout South Korea will also begin to self-isolate using recommendations from the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” the church said.

In a press briefing Friday from the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “The measures China and other countries have taken have given us a fighting chance of containing the spread of the coronavirus. We call on all countries to continue their containment measures, while preparing for community transmission if it occurs.”

He added, “Although the total number of COVID19 cases outside China remains relatively small, we are concerned about the number of cases with no clear epidemiological link, such as travel history to China or contact with a confirmed case.”

The church statement also said all missionaries, regardless of where they are serving, have been reminded to follow basic preventative health practices to avoid illness.

“It is important to note that young missionaries are not generally considered to be at risk for serious complications from the coronavirus,” the statement said. Male missionaries are typically 18 to 21 years in age, and female missionaries are typically 19 to 22 years old; a smaller number of elder members of the church also serve missions as married couples.

They church reported it is also evaluating the needs of members and providing support or further instructions.

“The Taipei Taiwan Temple has been closed temporarily, and the Seoul Korea Temple will temporarily close beginning Saturday,” the church said. “Members in some parts of the world are not gathering for weekly worship services. In other places, services are being held on a limited schedule. Local church leaders are also working to support and minister to the needs of members in these areas.”

The church will continue to closely follow developments and will make any further adjustments as needed.

“We pray for all those affected by this illness and plead for the Lord’s blessings during this difficult time,” the statement said.

Daily Herald reporter Genelle Pugmire can be contacted at gpugmire@heraldextra.com, (801) 344-2910, Twitter @gpugmire

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