Today at the Mission Office we were greeted by this handwashing station. Every person entering the office or mission home area is required to use it.
Last night as we went to bed, we received this message about the state of affairs here in the Ivory Coast. It’s the first big news we’ve had here (not that we hear much news). Life has been going on pretty normally here while things sound pretty crazy at home. It’s about to get crazy here too.
Statement by President Alassane Ouattara:
“This Monday, March 16, I chaired a meeting of the National Security Council during which additional measures were taken to combat the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID -19) in our country:
– Suspension for a period of 15 days, renewable, starting at midnight on March 16, 2020, from the entry into Côte d’Ivoire of non-Ivorian travelers from countries with more than 100 confirmed cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19 );
– Strengthening health control at air, sea and land borders;
– Quarantine of suspected cases and contacts of patients in centers requisitioned by the State;
– Closure of all preschool, elementary, secondary and higher education establishments for a period of 30 days from March 16, 2020 at midnight;
– Respect of a distance of at least one (01) meter between people in supermarkets, scrub, restaurants, businesses, the airport area and public places;
– Respect for personal, behavioral, water and food hygiene measures;
– Prohibition of manual greetings, hugs and hugs and the consumption of bushmeat;
– Closure of night clubs, cinemas and places of entertainment for a period of 15 days;
– Prohibition of population gatherings of more than 50 people for a period of 15 days;
– Suspension of all national and international sporting and cultural events for a period of 15 days;
– Total free diagnosis and management of all suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Waiting for our meeting to begin. Pres Binene has been on the phone and responding to emails and messages all day.
Our meeting eventually started and we talked for 2.5 hours about some really important things like how to keep our missionaries safe and productive while this pandemic and the panic around us moves closer.
As a result of this meeting, President Binene sent this out to all the parents this evening:
How grateful we are to serve with your sons and daughters in the Lord’s cause. We love these young women and young men as our own. Please know that with the coronavirus, or COVID-19, affecting people here and around the world, our highest priority right now continues to be your missionary’s personal health and safety.
To help ensure the missionaries’ continued physical and spiritual well-being, we are following the inspired and well-informed direction of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, our Area Presidency, and the Missionary Department. We also are instructing the missionaries in following local and national government guidelines and precautions, reminding them to:
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Stay in their apartment whenever they themselves are sick. Avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth.
• Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces with household cleaning spray or wipes.
• Wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (which should always be done if their hands are visibly dirty), and, if soap and water are not readily available, to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
We are asking your missionary to contact us immediately if they feel sick so that we can involve health care professionals and our area medical advisers. If your missionary has chronic or critical health issues that we need to be aware of, we also invite you to reply to this email to make sure that we address any concerns. We understand very well that the current situation may be stressful and cause concerns for some of our missionaries and their families, but we will watch over your missionary carefully and will communicate with them often.
If it becomes necessary for our missionaries to only work from their apartments, we will provide additional funds for them to purchase food and supplies. We will help the missionaries prepare and make sure their needs are met.
These are challenging times and circumstances, but to us this also is an opportunity to continue sharing the gospel. If our missionaries are required to work primarily from their apartments, they will continue to focus on their missionary purpose by teaching using technology, studying the scriptures and Preach My Gospel, language learning, family history, online community service and other activities as needed. This is also a significant opportunity for missionaries to work closely with local Church leaders to reach out to new and returning members, families where some individuals are not yet members, and members with special ministering needs. Our missionaries will continue to go outside for exercise and fresh air while observing wise guidelines for personal contact. All of these activities will help them continue the Lord’s work, grow spiritually, and bless those in the communities they serve.
Going forward, we will continue to send updates to you as mission circumstances evolve. If your missionary is working from their apartment, they may communicate with you twice a week to share their status and experiences.
Please be assured that we are completely dedicated to keeping your missionary healthy and safe. And we are most grateful for our loving Heavenly Father’s supporting hand in caring for them. May he continue to abundantly bless you and your family, each and every missionary, and the people we have been called to serve.
With our greatest love and appreciation,
President and Sister BINENE