Kerala priest arrested for violating government rules amid COVID-19 outbreak

Published 24 March 2020  |  
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Kerala police arrested a Catholic priest for holding a mass gathering of more than 100 people though the state authorities passed strict rules to avoid large gatherings to stop the spread of COVID-19, a pandemic that has killed nearly 15,000 people around the world.

Father Paul Padayatti from his Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Koodapuzha was arrested by the Trichur district police on March 23.

Amid the outbreak, Kerala had ordered the closure of worship places but did not prohibit religious services, provided that a safe distance was maintained with less than 50 participants.

According to a priest from Father Padayatti's diocese, a funeral celebration gave rise to the assembly of so many people at one place. Though the Christian leader had limited the attendees to 50, more than 100 people showed up to the funeral.

Therefore, police arrested Father Padayatti for violating government orders and exposing so many people to the risk of infection.

The Christian leader was released after he publicly apologized and promised not to hold any such large gathering.

Earlier, on March 21, Cardinal George Alencherry, head of the Kerala-based Eastern-rite Syro-Malabar Church, said in an audio message that "We know the global population is in the grip of coronavirus. Among the 195 nations in the globe, 164 are affected with the virus attack. India is no exception. We, therefore, need to give equal importance to its cure and prevention to contain its spread."

At present, the country has 519 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 10 deaths.

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