The Church of North India (CNI) on Tuesday decided to offer part of its premises to the state government to set up quarantine facilities.
“The church is ready to offer its premises to the state government to set up temporary quarantine facilities if there is shortage of space for those who need to be kept in isolation,” Reverend Paritosh Canning, the bishop of the Calcutta diocese of the CNI, told Metro.
For example, the premises of Oxford Mission in Behala or St Thomas’ Church School, Howrah — both with large premises — can be used to set up such facilities, he said. The church owns several properties in Calcutta and on its outskirts, he said.
The church, though, cannot set up such facilities by itself, the bishop said. It will have to be set up with the help of the state government because the church does not have the expertise or the arrangement to deal with the present situation, he said.
Given the contagious nature of the coronavirus, special expertise will be needed to convert a place into an isolation centre even temporarily, Canning said. “The church has always played an active role to help the needy in time of crisis… floods, drought or any other natural calamity. We want to offer our services even this time… to fight the coronavirus. But this time we can’t work alone. We need to work with the state government.”
He said he had written a letter to chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday requesting her to allow the church to work with the government in preventing the spread of the coronavirus.
Bishop Canning said the church was keen to engage its volunteers and health workers in its work, along with various state government departments, to fight the disease.
The CNI runs a hospital and several dispensaries in the city for the poor and the needy. “Members of the staff of our health services programme can work together with the state government if there is a need for more such people in combating the outbreak,” he said.
A large number of people who depend on daily income are not able to earn because of the lockdown. The church is ready to offer them food and other items, he said. “We want to provide the items not just to people from our community but also to the common people. It will be easier for us to identify the people who need such help if we work with the government.”
The church has requested the chief minister’s office to arrange for a meeting with government officials to discuss what the church needs to follow so that it can help in the fight against the virus.
The bishop will attend a prayer service at 3.10pm on Wednesday, which can be viewed on YouTube.