Statement from the Office of Mission regarding COVID-19
With rising concern about the impact of the current coronavirus (COVID-19), Conference staff recently listened in to a webinar hosted by our travel insurance company, AIG Travel. This excellent presentation (for which a link is provided below for those who would like to listen to the entire 40 minutes) gave us the necessary information to help our churches and mission teams make appropriate decisions regarding travel at this time.
Here are the important insights we gleaned:
This virus seems be largely impacting adults from 30 years and older. People over 60 are at a higher risk of significant symptoms than younger people. People over 60 with other underlying health issues, especially pulmonary issues, should consider not traveling until this virus’ impact is under control.
This is a flu-like virus that has typical symptoms such a fever, cough and respiratory issues. Infections are transmitted by coughing and sneezing. Most people will have mild symptoms. Only 5% of infected people will need to be hospitalized.
The incidence of COVID-19 is still very low. You are more likely to get the flu than this new virus.
Wearing surgical masks is limited in value to prevent the virus penetrating the wearer; however, a mask is effective for those who are symptomatic from spreading it.
The places to avoid are countries on the CDC list (see link below) that are showing high incidence, as well as transiting through airports in these same countries.
The Office of Mission is in regular contact with our hosts receiving teams and with our insurers. WE will be here to assist in making the best decisions for your team. There is a clear concern right now; but there is no need to panic as this outbreak is limited in its scope. It has reached the level of an epidemic in China, but is not (yet, anyway) anything approaching a widespread pandemic.
While taking the best possible precautions in the face of this virus, it is also important that we continue to be about God’s mission in the world. Our presence and commitment to each other is a witness to our hope and confidence in our shared journey of faith in Christ. If travel does, indeed, become more challenging, we will help you find other ways to continue our partnerships in mission.