DHAKA, Bangladesh — Archbishop Moses Costa of Chittagong has tested positive for COVID-19 and is in critical condition in a private hospital in Dhaka, reported ucanews.com.
He was admitted to the hospital June 13, Father Leonard C. Rebeiro, vicar general of the archdiocese, said June 14.
Costa, 70, is the first known member of senior Catholic clergy in Bangladesh to be infected with the coronavirus. Two high-profile politicians, both over 70, have died of the virus, ucanews.com reported.
Archbishop Costa is secretary-general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Bangladesh and chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Health Care Commission.
Chittagong was among the first of the eight Catholic dioceses in Bangladesh to issue COVID-19 health guidelines and closed all churches for public liturgy even before Bangladesh declared a nationwide shutdown March 26.
Bangladesh lifted the shutdown May 31 and, since then, all dioceses except Chittagong have opened churches for public liturgy, including Masses.
An official from Chittagong told ucanews.com that the decision not to resume services was prompted by fast-growing numbers of COVID-19 cases in the port city.
“Archbishop Costa maintained strict lockdown measures since March, but we are shocked to know he has been infected. Now we are afraid for ourselves as we had interactions with him,” the official told ucanews.com on the condition of anonymity.
All Chittagong Archdiocese staff have been advised to stay in isolation at home and to continue working from home, the official added.
Chittagong, Bangladesh’s financial hub and second-largest city, has seen a rapid increase in coronavirus cases in recent weeks. Its Kotwali area has been marked as a hot spot.
The country had recorded 87,520 confirmed cases and 1,171 deaths from COVID-19 as of June 14.