Japan has three or so confirmed cases of H1N1 flu however some churches have already introduced measures they think will help prevent the spread of the flu. Two examples are these very busy churches in Tokyo St Ignatius and the Franciscan Chapel Center Roppongi. On the main page of their website St Ignatius has a prominent notice titled Information about Influenza A(H1N1)
Their website is here. The notice reads
May 9 2009
To avoid the spread Influenza A(H1N1), for the time being, there will be no Holy Water at the entrance of the Chapels.
May 1st 2009
From now on, taking into consideration the government’s regulations, we will need to take measures here to prevent the spreading of the virus. These measures might include the suspension of masses, confessions and all kinds of meetings.
We will keep you informed through the Church’s Home Page and the Bulletin Board. Please check it before coming to Church.
As a first step, beginning on Monday, May 4th, Holy Communion will only be placed in the hand (not in the mouth). We ask for your understanding and cooperation.
The FCC does not have an obvious notice on their website rather you have to look to the most recent bulletin which is a pdf document.
The Pastor writes:
I have decided to take the following measures at Holy Mass, in order to reduce the possibility of spreading influenza.
1. At the greeting of peace bow to each other. Avoid shaking hands or making any physical contact.
2. At holy communion, receive the Eucharist on your hand. We will not give it in the mouth.
3. Before holy communion, priests and communion ministers will wipe their hands with disinfecting paper towels.
I also urge everyone to wash your hands and gargle before coming to Mass, and after returning home. <snip> We will observe these measures until the danger is over.
A few clarifications. At Masses in Japanese the sign of peace is a bow but for English and other language Masses people shake hands so that particular parish insists on bowing only now. Gargling may sound silly however it it is a very common practice here that people do thinking will help prevent illness. People don’t simply gargle with water but a store bought solution of which a few drops are mixed with water then gargled. I have no idea what is in the solution.
Now my two yen. I am torn between thinking it is good that they are taking precautions and thinking that they are over reacting. Practically speaking though I do have food and supplies at home mainly in case of an earthquake but they can be used to cover a quarantine too. I remember watching the news and hearing a Mexican family who had been quarantined at home for a week say how they are really low on food. I know some governments urge people to have a three day supply of food and water in case of emergency but I think that is not enough and people should have as much supply as they can possibly store. Plus supplies of toiletries, cleaning supplies, medical supplies, and so on.