World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a global health emergency over a new coronavirus that has killed at least 361 people in China following an outbreak in the central city of Wuhan, forcing a government lockdown in almost 20 cities that, in effect, has quarantined an estimated 56 million people, Aljazeera has established.
Over 17,300 cases have been reported worldwide, most of them in China’s Hubei province.
The infection is now more widespread than the 2002-2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in terms of affected people but not deaths.
WHO says coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as SARS and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). These viruses were originally transmitted between animals and people. SARS, for instance, was believed to have been transmitted from civet cats to humans while MERS travelled from a type of camel to humans.
Although most coronaviruses only affect animals, one strain has spread from an exotic animal food market in China throughout the heavily populated nation, to the Middle East, and the dozens of other countries including at least a half-dozen confirmed cases in the United States.
Currently, China is on lockdown with most flights cancelled and non-essential businesses closed.
WHO has raised a red flag, saying the outbreak constitutes a global health emergency. The decision to sound the top-level alarm was made after the first cases of human-to-human transmission outside China were confirmed. One of the cases was the death of a Wuhan man who passed away in the Philippines on February 2.
The international health alert is a call on countries around the world to coordinate their response under the guidance of the United Nations health agency.
Experts say the recent infection may not be as deadly as other types of coronavirus such as SARS, which claimed nearly 800 people worldwide, over 300 in China alone – during a 2002-2003 outbreak that also originated in China. MERS, which did not spread as widely, was more deadly, killing one-third of those it infected. In China, however, the infection is more widespread than SARS in terms of case numbers.
A matter of international health emergency now, preachers and preachers have vented in on the coronavirus outbreak, sharing various opinions about it.
Author and co-founder of the Texas-based Kenneth Copeland Ministries, Gloria Copeland, famously claimed that believers should not be afraid of coronavirus because they have “Holy Spirit flu vaccines”.
Declaring in a video broadcasted on her ministry’s Facebook page last Wednesday, the prominent cleric said:
“Well, listen partners; we don’t have a flu season. We’ve got a duck season, a deer season but we don’t have a flu season. And don’t receive it when somebody’s threatening you with ‘Everybody’s getting the flu.’ We’ve already had our shot. He bore our sicknesses and carried our diseases. That’s what we stand on and by His stripes, we were healed.”
Copeland then proceeded to pray for those who were already suffering from the flu. She insisted after her prayer that those who follow Jesus have already been inoculated by Jesus.
“Jesus himself gave us the flu shot. He redeemed us from the curse of the flu, and we receive it and we take it and we are healed by His stripes. Amen? You know the Bible says He Himself bore our sicknesses and carried our diseases and by His stripes we were healed. When we were healed, we are healed so get on the word, stay on the word. If you say ‘well I don’t have any symptoms of the flu’ well great, that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Just keep saying that. ‘I’ll never have the flu; I’ll never have the flu.’ Put words, inoculate yourself with the Word of God,” she said.
Many people on social media condemned Copeland’s advice which could have dire consequences for those who believe it, while others asked questions about how to activate the holy protection from the flu.
The Kenneth Copeland Ministries has since backtracked from the claims, saying Gloria wasn’t saying believers shouldn’t get real vaccines per se.
“No, if you get the flu, it does not mean you didn’t believe hard enough,” the church said.
“Thankfully, even if you get the flu, Jesus can help you overcome it. But many people go around expecting to get the flu, and declaring things like, ‘It’s flu season, and I always get the flu.’ When you believe with your heart and speak words of faith in the flu out of your mouth, it’s an open invitation for the flu to come in. Life and death are in the power of your tongue (Proverbs 18:21). So, instead of believing and speaking that the flu will come on you, you can exercise your faith and believe and speak that it will not. If however, you do get the flu, you can overcome it!”
The ministry then shared scriptures to help believers stand against the flu such as James 4:7, which says “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you,” and 1 Peter 2:24, which says “He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed.”
Elsewhere, End Times broadcaster Rick Wiles made odd comments on his broadcast and warned that the coronavirus is a plague sent by God to purge the world of sin as the Last Days approach. The evangelical preacher who made similar wild predictions during the Ebola outbreak in 2014, said that his “spirit bears witness that this is a genuine plague that is coming upon the Earth, and God is about to purge a lot of sin off this planet.”
“Plagues are one of the last steps of judgment,” he warned, saying that China is a “godless communist government” and the United States is not much better.
“Look at the spiritual rebellion that is in this country, the hatred of God, the hatred of the Bible, the hatred of righteousness,” Wiles said. “Just vile, disgusting people in this country now, transgendering little children, perverting them. Look at the rapes, and the sexual immorality, and the filth on our TVs and our movies.”
“Folks, the Death Angel may be moving right now across the planet,” he continued. “This is the time to get right with God … The blood of Jesus Christ will protect you. Do not fear. If you are living right for God, if the blood of Jesus Christ is on you, you have no reason to fear this Death Angel. But those of you who are opposing the church of God, mocking God, attacking his servants, you’d better wise up because there is a Death Angel on the loose right now, and you are going to get an attitude adjustment.”
Meanwhile, a pastor in the quarantined Wuhan city where the coronavirus broke out, is calling for prayer as he grapples with how his family and the global church should react.
The Christian leader, identified as “A Wuhan Pastor” by China Source, sent an open letter about the virus that so far has killed at least 170 people and sickened more than 7,700 people in mainland China, as it continues to spread throughout Asia, Australia and North America.
Fellow pastors from around the world have been reaching out, asking how they can support him.
In other related news, a WHO official has said the new virus “could overwhelm health systems we have in Africa.”
Dr. Michel Yao, emergency operations program manager in Africa, spoke to The Associated Press on Friday after WHO declared the new coronavirus a global health emergency and cited “countries with weaker health systems which are ill-prepared to deal with it.”
Yao said WHO has listed high-priority countries with direct China flights or many visitors from China, where thousands of people have been infected.
The high-priority countries include Algeria, Angola, Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Mauritius, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
Within the next few days, at least 20 countries in Africa will be supplied with the reagent needed to test samples for the virus, Yao said.
He defended the precautionary measures amid other urgent health crises in Africa including outbreaks of Ebola and measles in Congo. “If turns out to be a mild virus, that’s perfectly fine. If it’s dangerous and you let it go and decimate people, you have failed in public health,” he said.
The United States, Australia, Russia, Japan, Pakistan and Italy said they would deny entry to all foreign visitors who had recently been in China, where the virus first emerged in December.
Hallelujah Magazine, just like Pulpit and Pen encourages Christians to understand that the Bible does not promise immunity to sickness in this lifetime, and if believers are near an impact centre for the coronavirus or any other contagious illness they should take basic precautionary measures like the frequent washing of hands and good hygiene to avoid contracting the sickness.
Hallelujah Magazine is committed to publishing reliable, trusted, quality and independent Christian journalism. Our journalism is free from commercial bias and is not influenced by wealthy people, politicians, clerics or shareholders. We value our readers’ feedback, suggestions and opinions. Have something to add to the story? Share it in the comments below. Like this story? Share it with a friend!