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Updated Swine ‘Flu guidance – September 21st from Ely Diocese

Well, the problem hasnt gone away of course though as reported in Church Times over recent weeks, many churches are considering returning to normal practice if they ever did withold the chalice in the first place.

The Diocese of Ely has issued updated advice today and I will post it here as I still seem to get many hits on the site from people searching for info on the subject:

Update from Rev Michael Goater on Swine Flu precautions.

You will perhaps have seen reports in the Church press that the Archbishops may ‘soften’ their advice about the suspension of the chalice at the Eucharist, and that a number of dioceses have reverted to the practice of communion in both kinds, given that the advance of the infection has slowed over the summer.

However, in keeping with the advice from the majority of dioceses in the country, as endorsed by the House of Bishops, Bishop Anthony recommends that we maintain the precautionary measures generously and thoughtfully put into place by so many parishes earlier in the year and do not relax our vigilance.

The following further statement has been received from the Archbishops, which Bishop Anthony commends to us.

Please note the Archbishops’ point that their advice of July this year that the chalice should be suspended has not changed, and that responsible practice in this area is not primarily about protecting ourselves, but about avoiding transmitting infection unwittingly to others.   This has been the thrust of Bishop Anthony’s advice to us in recent months, and it remains his considered counsel.

For your information, the situation across the diocese at 18 September 2009 is that the number of suspected H1N1 cases has risen in the past two weeks, but this does not necessarily mean the start yet of a second wave of the virus.  There are currently 10 people in hospitals in the East of England with an H1N1 related condition, but none of these is in critical care.  There have been four deaths of East of England residents relating to swine flu.   Though the county’s antiviral centres have closed for the time being, with drugs presently being issued from pharmacies, the county and regional monitoring groups continue to meet regularly, and the situation is under daily review.

Statement from the Archbishops 16.9.09


At the end of July the Department of Health advised us that the pandemic had reached the stage at which ‘it makes good sense to limit the spread of disease by not sharing common vessels for food and drink.’

In the light of this we felt it would be irresponsible not to alert parishes and dioceses to this advice, and to recommend the suspension of the administration of the chalice while the Department of Health information and advice remained as it was. To date the advice we have been given has not changed.

Of course national advice given by Archbishops is just that – advice – as indeed is any separate advice that Bishops may decide to give to parishes.

Judgments about the best course of action in particular contexts may vary, but it remains important

a)         to encourage everyone to recognise that the Church has a responsibility to take public health considerations seriously, and

b)         to ensure that communication around the Church is good so that we don’t appear to be at sixes and sevens, and

c)         to remember that responsible practice in this area is not primarily about protecting ourselves, but about avoiding transmitting infection unwittingly to others.

We are keeping regular contact nationally with the Department of Health and all relevant information and advice will be passed on.

We have decided to review our own advice towards the end of October, in the light of the information, statistics, and guidance coming by then from the Department of Health. By that time the progress of the vaccination programme and the effects of schools and universities having started back will be assessed.

If at that stage the perceived risk is significantly lower than when we issued our advice at the end of July, then fresh guidelines will be given. We would urge patience and vigilance until we have reached that point.

+ Rowan Cantuar                                          + Sentamu Ebor:

Michael Goater

Bishop’s Adviser for Emergency Planning


September 21, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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