Based on a helpful circular forwarded by Richard Frank, from the Diocese of London, here's what we're putting out to our folks on Sunday. Yeovil had its first confirmed case of swine flu earlier this week at a local secondary school, which is now closing early for the summer hols. The text below fits onto a double-sided A5 leaflet in 12 point Times New Roman.
Or if you think this is all taking it too seriously, the Beaker Folk have an alternative.
(update: Blackburn Diocese has now advised it's churches to stop sharing wine at communion. Latest news here, 'worst case' is 30% of us get it, and well over 99.5% live to tell the tale. More also at Ruth Gledhills blog, including some good advice from Parish Nursing)
Latest news on Swine Flu
As you may know, there are now cases of swine flu in Yeovil, and nationally the number of cases is expected to rise strongly by early September. 5-14 year olds are the age group most affected at present. Infection rates have been lowest among the over-60s.
The most common symptoms are fever, sore throat, diarrhoea, headache, feeling generally unwell and a dry cough – in other words, symptoms very similar to seasonal influenza. Most people recover within a week, even without antiviral treatment.
Although symptoms have generally proved mild, a small number of patients will develop more serious illness. Many of these people have other underlying health conditions, such as heart or lung disease, that put them at increased risk.
What should people do if they think they have swine flu?
1. People should check their symptoms. They can o this by: visiting http://www.nhs.uk/ or by calling the Swine Flu Information Line on 0800 1 513 513;
2. If they still think they have Swine Flu, then people should call their local GP, who will be able to provide a clinical diagnosis over the phone.
3. If Swine Flu is confirmed, the GP will give the patient an authorisation voucher which their Flu Friend can then take to the designated local collection centre to pick up antivirals.
4. If you are showing flu-like symptoms, then please do not attend church services or other meetings.
Holy Communion and good hygiene measures
We are considering whether to move to sharing Communion with the bread only, until we have better advice on whether a shared cup is ok or not.
Both clergy and lay assistants at Holy Communion will need to ensure that hands are washed thoroughly.
We will also look to get supplies of alcohol gel hand rub for church and hall users, and to clean the hall and kitchen more regularly during the week to minimise the risk of infection.
Visitors need to exercise particular care when visiting people in their homes, as not only are they susceptible to infection themselves but could risk infecting others. It may be better to phone rather than visit in person.
‘Flu friends’ are relatives, neighbours and friends who will collect medicine and essential food supplies for people who have been diagnosed positive with Swine Flu. When someone is diagnosed with swine flu, they’re given a voucher or individual code that will enable prescribed medication to be collected on their behalf. ‘Flu friends’ should not however have direct contact with an infected person.
It’s a good idea to identify your ‘flu friend’ now, and if there are people living near you who may be a bit isolated, then being their ‘flu friend’ can be a valuable way of blessing your neighbours.
Church Services and Children’s Groups
It’s very unlikely that we’ll be advised to stop holding church services, though if local schools are closed in the autumn, we may have to think about childrens groups and Junior Church. Children are the most vulnerable to infection, and the most likely to pass it on.
giver of life and health:
comfort and restore those who are sick,
that they may be strengthened in their weakness
and have confidence in your unfailing love;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Creator and Father of all,
we pray for those who are ill.
Bless them, and those who serve their needs,
that they may put their whole trust in you
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.