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Church Makes Adjustments In Several Asian Countries Over Coronavirus Outbreak

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Office Building is pictured in Salt Lake City on July 18, 2008. (Tom Smart, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The spread of the coronavirus has The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints taking precautionary measures for members in several Asian countries, missionaries recently assigned to those areas, and even an adjustment for this spring’s General Conference.

The Asia North Area Presidency announced Thursday that they are cancelling all Sunday worship services in Japan.

“Effective immediately and until further notice, all church buildings in Japan will be closed,” a letter to church members said.

In addition to meetinghouses, the Sapporo and Fukuoka Temples, seminary and institute offices, Family History Centers, distribution centers, and all other Church offices will be closed.

The letter went on to say that church members are encouraged to meet in their homes as families and share uplifting messages and conduct church business online.

The action in Japan came after the country’s prime minister called for large gatherings to be avoided.

The coronavirus has also impacted a number of church missionaries, with delays, early releases or temporary assignments. More than a dozen Asian missions have taking steps to reduce the number of missionaries.

The missions being affected include:

  • Cambodia Phnom Penh Mission
  • Japan Fukuoka Mission
  • Japan Kobe Mission
  • Japan Nagoya Mission
  • Japan Sapporo Mission
  • Japan Tokyo North Mission
  • Japan Tokyo South Mission
  • Korea Busan Mission
  • Korea Seoul Mission
  • Korea Seoul South Mission
  • Mongolia Ulaanbaatar Mission
  • Singapore Mission
  • Thailand Bangkok Mission

Missionaries who will be issued early releases will be asked to “self-isolate for 14 days and follow instructions from the World Health Organization and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

Officials have urged missionaries everywhere to “follow basic preventative health practices to avoid the illness.”

Depending on the mission, missionaries could have their start date postponed or be sent elsewhere temporarily. Those near the end of their missions will come home early, along with those with chronic health problems.

Some regions in Hong Kong, Mongolia, and Korea will also have their member gatherings limited or temporarily suspended.

The leadership portion of April’s General Conference has been postponed. Second, the church has discouraged members living outside the United States from traveling to Salt Lake City to attend general sessions in person.

In a statement, the First Presidency said, “we wish to be good global citizens and do what we can to limit the spread of this disease. We also want to relieve concerns of our leaders, members, and their families related to the uncertainties of travel at this time.”

The leadership sessions for General Authorities and Area Seventies will be delayed until the October 2020 conference, and leaders from outside the U.S. have been excused from attending conference.

The postponement only applies to leadership meetings, not conference itself. The April 2020 General Conference is still planned as normal.


Coronavirus Resources

Have you or a family member been affected by coronavirus issues in Utah? KSL wants to hear from you. Contact KSL by emailing social@ksl.com.

What is COVID-19? Here’s What You Need To Know To Stay Healthy: ksltv.com/432037/what-is-covid-19/

Latest coronavirus stories from KSL can be found at ksltv.com/coronavirus/.

Where in the world has the coronavirus already appeared? See the map: ksltv.com/?p=432035

Your Life Your Health: How can parents prepare their home, children against coronavirus: ksltv.com/?p=432060

How do I prevent it?

The CDC has some simple recommendations, most of which are the same for preventing other respiratory illnesses or the flu:

  • Avoid close contact with people who may be sick
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
  • If soap and water is not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

The CDC does not recommend wearing a facemask respirator to protect yourself from coronavirus unless a healthcare professional recommends it.

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