How COVID-19 continues to affect Latter-day Saints worldwide

Following an announcement from the First Presidency cautioning Church members against international travel for the upcoming April 2020 general conference, the Church released an updated statement on Feb. 27 about how Latter-day Saints around the world are being affected by ongoing precautions against the spreading coronavirus. So far, missionaries in 14 missions across 17 countries have been affected by changes implemented in response to the virus. Additionally four temples have been temporarily closed and several countries are suspending worship services in response to the virus.

The Church statement, published Thursday, Feb. 27, on Newsroom said: “Recent concern regarding the COVID-19 (coronavirus) has generated much public attention and has caused significant change in travel, personal interactions and in guidelines prescribed by health officials for how to address the growing concern.”

First Presidency discourages leaders, members from international travels to April conference due to coronavirus concerns

As Church leaders continue to monitor the spread of coronavirus and the regulations of governments working to reduce the spread of the disease, additional steps are being taken in several of the most affected areas to “provide assistance, help missionaries be safe and effective, address concerns regarding member safety and plan for upcoming events,” the statement read. “These steps are being taken to comply with best practices or direction provided by the public health organizations of various national governments.”

Taipei Taiwan Temple
Taipei Taiwan Temple Credit: Intellectual Reserve Inc.

The latest update comes as a follow-up to information released on Feb. 21 regarding missionary and temple worship services in areas affected by the virus.

The respiratory illness, which continues to remain a focus of headlines around the world, has killed more than 2,800 people and infected some 82,000 people, according to a recent Business Insider report. Although the majority of cases have been in mainland China, there is growing concern for the spread of the disease, which has now reached several Asian and European countries as well as the United States. As it has in the past, the Church is taking necessary precautions to help protect its members and missionaries against the spread of the epidemic.

Here’s a look at the Church’s updated list of areas affected and the instructions being given to missionaries and members:

Missions and missionaries

Missionaries serving throughout Cambodia, Korea, Singapore, Thailand and Japan have all been instructed to remain in their apartments and avoid going outside except when necessary to purchase food and supplies, to exercise or to attend worship services (if they are still being held). Missionaries serving in these areas who are nearing the end of their service will return home early as an extra precaution.

Passengers wear masks to prevent an outbreak of a new coronavirus in a subway station, in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. The first case of coronavirus in Macao was confirmed on Wednesday, according to state broadcaster CCTV. The infected person, a 52-year-old woman, was a traveller from Wuhan. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
Passengers wear masks to prevent an outbreak of a new coronavirus in a subway station, in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. The first case of coronavirus in Macao was confirmed on Wednesday, according to state broadcaster CCTV. The infected person, a 52-year-old woman, was a traveller from Wuhan. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung) Credit: AP Photo

Prospective missionaries called to these areas or preparing to serve there will either receive temporary reassignments of have their start date postponed.

Any missionaries with chronic health problems and all senior missionaries will also return home early from these areas or be temporarily reassigned to a mission in their country of origin. Some senior missionaries will be asked to continue to support their missions remotely.

  • Cambodia Phnom Penh Mission
  • Korea Busan Mission
  • Korea Seoul Mission
  • Korea Seoul South Mission
  • Singapore Mission
  • Thailand Bangkok Mission

Missionaries preparing to serve throughout Japan will either postpone their start date or receive new temporary assignments.

  • Japan Fukuoka Mission
  • Japan Kobe Mission
  • Japan Nagoya Mission
  • Japan Sapporo Mission
  • Japan Tokyo North Mission
  • Japan Tokyo South Mission

Missionaries throughout Mongolia who are not natives of the country will be temporarily transferred out of the country. Those nearing the end of their service will return home early.

All missionaries who remain in the countries mentioned above are being advised to take precautions to stay healthy, avoid personal interaction with other people and are encouraged to continue teaching through phone calls or other technology.

Missionaries who are returning home should self-isolate for 14 days following instructions from the World Health Organization and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Earlier this month, the Church transferred out 113 missionaries out of its China Hong Kong Mission because of the health concerns, with most sent home for two-week self-isolation. Another 12 from Hong Kong were released and sent home until the situation stabilizes.

Temples and temple worship

Following the recommendations of local public health agencies, the following temples have been temporarily closed as a preventive measure to ensure the continued safety and health of the workers:

The Seoul Korea Temple.
The Seoul Korea Temple. Credit: Photo by Greg Hill
  • Taipei Taiwan Temple
  • Seoul Korea Temple
  • Fukuoka Japan Temple
  • Sapporo Japan Temple

(The Hong Kong China and Tokyo Japan Temples are already closed due to ongoing renovations).

Members and worship services

The area presidencies overseeing Hong Kong, Mongolia, Korea and Japan have called on some regions to limit or suspend Sunday worship services and other member gatherings as a temporary precautionary measure. Local leaders, under the direction of their area presidencies, are either cancelling or shortening Sunday worship services accordingly.

Church provided aid

Following an initial donation of equipment such as goggles, masks, and medical gowns sent to China under the direction of President Russell M. Nelson earlier this month, the Church continues to evaluate requests for resources to aid in preventing the spread of the coronavirus and responding to areas where the virus is already prevalent.