In response to the coronavirus and the increasing difficulty of conducting missionary work in Hong Kong and Macau, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is transferring missionaries out of the China Hong Kong Mission over the next few days, leaders announced in a statement Tuesday, Feb. 4.
Of the 125 missionaries in the mission, 113 missionaries will be temporarily reassigned to other missions or, if nearing their scheduled release date, will return home. The remaining 12 missionaries are from Hong Kong and will return to their homes and be released from service until the situation has stabilized.
According to an update released on Wednesday, Feb. 5, some of the missionaries leaving the China Hong Kong Mission will not undergo quarantine at a government facility as previously believed.
“Therefore, these 17 missionaries (who are citizens of the Philippines) will be isolated and separated from contact with other missionaries for 14 days at the missionary training center in Manila before departing for their new assignments or returning home,” the Feb. 5 statement said.
“The Church feels an important responsibility to do all we can to help these missionaries stay healthy and avoid even the remote possibility of spreading the virus. Staff at the missionary training center will work carefully to meet all the needs of these missionaries while they are there and to keep themselves and other missionaries safe by following proper health protocols.”
Church leaders emphasized that prior to leaving Hong Kong, all missionaries have rigorously followed preventative health practices to avoid illness. This includes remaining in their apartments when possible, not engaging in teaching, wearing masks, and frequently washing their hands.
“Therefore, the likelihood of any of these missionaries having contracted the coronavirus is very low,” according to the statement. “Additionally, each missionary is required to show no symptoms before leaving Hong Kong.”
The Church has a special responsibility to care for missionaries in addition to supporting members, employees and other Church personnel in Hong Kong and other areas where the coronavirus is a concern. “We sincerely pray for all those who are dealing with this virus as well as those who live in places where it is impacting their daily lives,” Church leaders wrote in the statement. “The Church will continue to follow developments closely and make any further adjustments as needed.”
The outbreak in China of coronavirus, a respiratory illness, has captured headlines around the world in recent weeks. In partnership with the charitable organization Health Oriented Preventive Education, the Church announced one week ago that it would send a large shipment of protective gear to China in response to coronavirus.
Project HOPE chartered two planes to transport 220,000 respiratory masks, nearly 870 pairs of protective goggles and more than 6,500 pairs of protective coveralls from the Church’s bishops’ central storehouses in Salt Lake City and Atlanta. In all, 79 pallets of protective gear were sent to China, according to Church officials.
“These are our dear brothers and sisters,” said President Russell M. Nelson, who enjoys a decades long association with the People’s Republic of China. “We feel privileged to be able to offer some small measure of help. We pray for them, and know God will bless them.”