In light of the global expansion of coronavirus (COVID-19), the International Mission Board (IMB) has convened a task force to specifically address the implications for its personnel and partners, including church volunteer mission teams. The task force aims to provide consistent information to all IMB field personnel and stateside staff regarding medical advice and travel directives.
To provide up-to-date information and recommendations regarding coronavirus to IMB personnel and its partners, the task force has launched a web page at imb.org/COVID-19.
“We recognize the concern that coronavirus is causing, and we are grateful for individuals and churches who are praying for IMB personnel and for people around the world directly affected by the virus,” said IMB President Paul Chitwood. “We are continually monitoring the global situation and remain in frequent contact with our missionaries to take the best precautions possible related to their health and safety.”
As with any issue around the globe, IMB personnel follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations and consult the U.S. State Department travel advisories. IMB leaders consider the ages, health, work and security of the people involved in each unique situation. Field-based leaders consult with leaders in the Richmond office to make the wisest decisions for all involved.
“We undergird all our decisions with fervent prayer for the Lord’s wisdom and guidance. As we do daily, we trust in God’s providence over this situation and will faithfully remain on task to reach the nations,” Chitwood said.
The task force recommends that personnel and church partners monitor the CDC guidelines and follow the latest recommendations regarding travel and virus prevention. IMB suggests churches frequently monitor travel advisories in order to make wise and prayerful decisions about mission trips planned in the near future.
At the time of publishing, the CDC recommends that travelers avoid non-essential travel to China and South Korea. They also recommend that older persons and those with chronic medical conditions consider avoiding non-essential travel to Italy, Japan and Iran. IMB also recommends its personnel not travel to or through Hong Kong at this time.
General prevention measures include:
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer if soap is not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid people who may look sick. If possible, put 1 meter between you and them, and avoid person-to-person contact.