Why is there no surge in infection after Easter?
The pre-Easter hysteria of the media with the prophecies that the UOC would cause a coronavirus outbreak ended in nothing. We figure out who and why was involved in it.
The Chief Sanitary Doctor of Ukraine Viktor Liashko has made two opposite statements within 6 days. The first one is that there will be a 100% surge in the incidence after Easter, and the second one is that there is no outbreak in fact. Interestingly, to confirm his position, he made the same arguments in both cases. So why didn't this surge in COVID-19 occur? Did quarantine measures play their role, or is it something else?
Pumping up anti-church hysteria
If you recall the weeks before Easter, you can only wonder at how officials of various levels, politicians, public figures, and even doctors escalated the hysteria about the fact that since there will be a large number of people attending Easter services, we should expect a dramatic increase in the number of people infected with the coronavirus. The local authorities in Dnipro and Konotop even got to the point of digging trenches near the temples in order to disrupt the service.
There were outright threats against the UOC. The Church was warned that it would be responsible for every case of infection, and especially death from COVID-19. The TSN broadcast that the believers of the UOC “would be hospitalized massively” and they (the authors of the TSN) “would know the perpetrators”. All this was very similar to information preparation for the fact that it would definitely happen, that certain circles among those in power decided to launch an attack on the UOC precisely under the pretext of its responsibility for the alleged surge in the incidence of the coronavirus infection after Easter.
Despite the fact that there were separate cases of criticism of other faiths, no one except the canonical Church was subjected to such powerful pressure and threats. “Coronavirus” (in this case, not a disease, but the whole situation) is a rather specific thing. We know that there is a saying about elections: “It’s unimportant who and how will vote, it’s extraordinary important who and how will count the votes.” The same can be said about the "coronavirus": it does not matter who gets sick and how it happened, it is important how they count. If it is necessary to increase the incidence rate, more tests are made, if it is necessary to reduce it – vice versa. And the accuracy of the tests is questioned: some of them have an error of up to 50%, which the manufacturers themselves acknowledge.
Back on March 27, 2020, Spain officially returned to China a batch of 640 thousand tests for COVID-19 called Shengzhen Bioeasy Biotechnology, saying that their quality is very low. But Ukraine, which purchased the same Shengzhen Bioeasy Biotechnology tests in China, did not complain about their quality and did not return them. The conclusions are obvious. In late March, the English newspaper “The Daily Telegraph” announced that a batch of components for coronavirus tests that had already been infected with coronavirus arrived in the UK from the Luxembourg pharmaceutical company Eurofins. On April 7, the UK also announced that the Chinese tests were of poor quality: “Unfortunately, the tests that we have checked through so far have not delivered good results. We see many false-negative as well as false-positive results,” “The Times” reported. On April 18, the American “Washington Post” reported the detection of the coronavirus itself in tests for coronavirus. What kind of real statistics of morbidity in such circumstances can we talk about? Also, reports in mid-April that in Paris several pipelines used to water the streets were infected with the coronavirus give food for thought.
"Coronavirus" is very convenient for all kinds of manipulations and solutions under its guise of one’s tasks, far from medicine. The Church is also very convenient to find “responsible” for the surge in the incidence due to holding divine services. Who is better to blame than the UOC for the increase in the number of illnesses and deaths? Apparently, it has come to this.
Is 130 thousand at Easter services “too many” or “too few”?
Immediately after the Easter Vespers, the head of the National Police of Ukraine Igor Klimenko said that, with some exceptions, there were no violations of quarantine measures in churches:
“Almost 130,000 citizens took part in the services. And today we can say that citizens showed legal consciousness and listened to our calls to observe quarantine restrictions. However, during the day there were recorded cases of the presence of more than 10 believers in churches, including without personal protective equipment in 19 religious buildings in 13 regions.”
A few days later, this was confirmed by the President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky, praising Ukrainians for their consciousness: “This year, about 100,000 believers attended services. While last year there were 7,500,000. This difference proves that we are mature, responsible citizens who think about themselves, their relatives, and Ukrainian doctors. I think we are great fellows and we can really be proud of ourselves.”
However, despite this, the Chief Sanitary Doctor of Ukraine Viktor Liashko on the air of the “1 + 1” TV channel said that Easter celebrations would lead to a surge in the incidence of COVID-19 with one hundred percent probability: “What statistics show, how many priests and monks have been infected today in closed premises, this will give a 100% surge.”
Moreover, if the head of the National Police said that 130 thousand people who attended Easter services did not violate the quarantine measures stipulated by law, Liashko presented this as the cause of a possible outbreak of disease: “If compared with the previous year when 7,500,000 participated in services, then, in principle, they observed (requirements - Ed.). But there were 130,000 anyway. And 130,000, if we are talking about a population, if we equate this to the spread of coronavirus disease, <...> this is a significant, large amount that can give us a significant surge in the incidence of coronavirus disease in the future."
It is important to note, however, that the authorities did not prohibit the Church from holding services with the participation of parishioners, setting only a limit of no more than 10 people in the church. The UOC now has about 12.5 thousand parishes, plus several hundred monasteries. If you multiply this number of churches by the number of 10 people allowed, then in total we will get the very 130 thousand parishioners who attended the Easter service.
So, what can the authorities' claims to the UOC be in this situation if they allow so many believers to come to the services, including Easter services?
Perhaps, Liashko was reported about this discrepancy because a few days later the Chief Medical Officer had to admit that there was no surge. And the reason for the absence of this surge was ... the same 130 thousand people who came to temples at Easter. True, now it is no longer “as many” as 130 thousand, but “only” 130 thousand.
The authorities did not prohibit the Church from holding services with the participation of parishioners, setting only a limit of no more than 10 people in the church. The UOC now has about 12.5 thousand parishes, plus several hundred monasteries. If you multiply this number of churches by the number of 10 people allowed, then in total we will get the very 130 thousand parishioners who attended the Easter service.
“A week after Easter and 2 months after the introduction of quarantine measures, we can say that it all works. <...> If we are talking about Easter, the work done by the President, the government, as well as all heads of regional administrations, people's deputies, and representatives of Churches, has been effective. Instead of 8 million <...> 130,000 came to temples. This is the work done, and it has a positive effect,” V. Liashko said. However, he couldn’t but blame the Church, saying that an outbreak could still happen in the coming days: “A week later (after Easter - Ed.), we do not have a significant outbreak in the territory of Ukraine. It may still be, we predict, we have only the seventh day after Easter. We know that the incubation period of the incidence is up to 14 days."
Our publication comes out already on the twelfth day after Easter, there are only two days left before a 14-day period is over. There is still no surge.
Why is there no outbreak after Easter?
But why is there no outbreak of infection predicted by the Chief Medical Officer with a hundred percent probability?
The answer is as obvious to Christians as it is ridiculous to non-believers: God did not allow the Easter service to become a source of contagion. Archbishop Theodosius of Boyarka, the vicar of the Kyiv Eparchy, confidently declared this even before Easter, arguing that even if the authorities did not limit the number of believers on Easter night, no outbreak of coronavirus would follow.
"There is no doubt that the Church would find in such a case (unhindered attendance of the Easter service – Ed.) the form of conducting night services, the consecration of Easter baskets and the word of reasoning and exhortation to parishioners in order to protect their believers from possible infection. And I have no doubt that under this scenario Easter would be fully celebrated, and there would be no people infected in the temples of the UOC," said the bishop.
Maybe, the Chief Medical Officer really expected a surge in the incidence, maybe he was based on his medical considerations, not his desire to harm the Church. But Liashko did not take into account what the Holy Scripture says: "Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails." (Proverbs 19, 21)
If we compare the figures given by government officials on the people attending Easter Vespers this year and in the past. It turns out that in 2020 there were almost 60 times fewer believers in temples than a year earlier. But here's what's remarkable: in many church communities noted – the Holy Week services were attended by believers who hadn’t done so in previous years. The increase is not significant, but it is nevertheless noteworthy. And practically the same people came to services at Easter and made up the very 130 thousand, which the National Police reported. This means that people have become more conscious about their participation in liturgical life. They began to understand that the way to Christ's Resurrection is through suffering and Calvary. And without joining these sufferings through church services and prayers, it is impossible to fully taste the joy of Easter.
If a person gives himself over to the hands of God, he is sure that without His all-good and all-wise will, nothing happens in the world. “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So, don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Matt. 10: 29-31). If a person believes these words of the Lord, he is much less prone (if at all) to fear of contracting the coronavirus, especially at the Easter service. As you know, nothing reduces immunity so much as fear of illness, and nothing increases it so much as confidence in the providence of God. That's why there is no surge in incidence after the Easter service.
Thus, the hopes of certain circles among those in power to destroy the Church, to make it responsible for the spread of the coronavirus, did not materialize. And since this way of fighting the Church did not work, other methods were activated: arson and bullying in the media. The Church will never be left alone. They have always tried and will try to destroy it either from inside or from outside. This is Her fate in this world. “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3, 12). Today, attacks on the Church have reached such an extent that Metropolitan Anthony of Boryspil and Brovary called the events a real terror. And this means that the Church is on the right track.
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5, 11-12).