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Prayer moves online for people across Africa

With many countries in Africa now banning religious gatherings in order to slow the spread of coronavirus, Christian worshippers turned to online or televised services on Sunday.

The continent has some of the world’s most committed Christians, according to a 2018 survey by the Pew Research Center, and the inability to go to regular church services has been hard for some of the faithful.

While the online streaming of services is not new, Sunday was the first time that many preachers had been talking to empty pews.

They also referred to coronavirus in their sermons.

In Kenya, where congregational prayers have been banned, the leader of the Christ is the Answer Ministries (Citam) David Oginde, had the message: “Down but not out”.

In his sermon, the leader of the large evangelical church drew parallels between a biblical story of a prophet hiding away and people going into quarantine.

“God is greater than Covid-19,” he said, and people should remain faithful.

In Nigeria, the pastors had a similar message. They told those watching online that faith can conquer the fear of coronavirus, the BBC’s Nkechi Ogbonna reports from the commercial capital, Lagos.

In Guinea, Archbishop Vincent Coulibaly was delivering mass on state television, the BBC’s Alhassan Sillah reports from Conakry.

There have also been no Muslim prayer services throughout the country, where the president has banned gatherings for the next two weeks.

In Ethiopia, some churches have held outdoor services to get around restrictions. People have been sharing images on social media of services taking place with people sitting or standing two metres apart, the BBC’s Kalkidan Yibeltal reports from Addis Ababa.

There are currently nearly 4,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus across Africa and 117 deaths. South Africa is the worst affected country and is currently in the third day of a 21-day lockdown.

Several other countries have also imposed strict measures limiting the movement of people beyond their own homes.

Source: bbc.com

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